A new report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the widespread harm that would be caused if the proposed rule released last year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — that would substantially change the way some immigrants are assessed as a public charge — if it becomes a final rule. Specifically, the rule would negatively affect many immigrants’ ability to apply for admission to the United States or for current lawful immigrants to seek an extension of stay or change of status.
To illustrate the widespread harm the rule would impose, the report details the number of U.S. citizens that might be deemed a public charge if the rule applied to them, using data that captures public benefits use by U.S.-born citizens over a 19-year period. Researchers approximate that more than half of the U.S.-born population participates in a benefit program over the course of their lifetime that may result in them being deemed a public charge, if the proposed rule was applied to U.S.-born citizens.
In addition to observing the use of public benefits in public charge determinations, the proposed rule introduces an income test among other additional criteria for making an admissibility determination. If implemented, immigration officials would be asked to make a prediction as to whether an immigrant below 125 percent of the federal poverty level may, at some point in the future, use one or more public benefits, or otherwise become dependent on the government for support. This broadening would subject immigrants to the biases of immigration officials and, as the report describes, would have a racially disparate impact on the immigrants allowed in the United States. Read more