The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to add to the “public charge” definition the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing programs, as well as other non-housing programs. NLIHC opposes the proposed rule in the strongest possible terms because of the harm it would do to immigrant families and our communities. Last week, NLIHC formally submitted comments to DHS registering our opposition to the rule. NLIHC encourages advocates to submit short comments through www.regulations.gov or through the easy-to-use portal developed by the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign. The deadline for commenting is Monday, December 10.
DHS has proposed changes to the criteria used to determine whether someone is a “public charge” – i.e., someone likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Under the proposed rule, public charge status would weigh heavily in determining whether noncitizens seeking admission to the U.S., noncitizens applying for lawful permanent resident status (green card), or those seeking an extension of or changes to their non-immigrant status are subject to a review to determine whether they are, or might be, a public charge. If the official determines that the individual is likely to become a public charge, the person’s application may be denied.
The administration has proposed to change this long-standing policy by adding to the definition of public charge a number of additional programs on which DHS would judge applicants, including the housing programs mentioned above as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Medicaid, and parts of Medicare. The proposed test would also take into consideration the applicants’ age, health status, and English proficiency. In other words, for the first time, an applicant for a visa or green card would be judged by whether they need—or might need in the future—support for safe and stable housing, food assistance, and health care.
The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) have drafted a template comment letter for housing advocates and housing providers. To access the template, please email Arianna Cook-Thajudeen at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use NLIHC’s comments as a template. NLIHC urges housing advocates to modify these templates to submit comments tailored to your community.
NHLP held a webinar, “Trump Administration's Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule: What Housing and Homelessness Advocates Should Know.” The webinar recording and materials are available at: https://bit.ly/2zNUhFB
Other public charge and housing resources, including fact sheets and talking points, are available here.
The Protecting Immigrant Families campaign portal is at: https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/
View NLIHC’s comments here: https://bit.ly/2RAV5Fm