Public Charge Rule proposal

The “Public Charge” rule, as I have reported in July here, is being expanded. This will, if put into law, effectively bar a very large number of legal low wage immigrants in the country from obtaining green cards. For example, among 48% of farm worker households, at least one person used at least one of the cited public assistance program in the past two years.

The median total income of these primarily farm working households (in 2014) was roughly $25,000. About 20% of all U.S. households have total income under $25,000 (found here). Another 9% have incomes between $25,000 and $35,000. The median household income of non-citizen immigrants in $40,000. (go here). Bottom line: a large share of non-citizen immigrant households are now vulnerable to denial of a green card due to use of public assistance programs actively used by citizen households with low incomes.

This 50% rate of utilizing public assistance comes from a Dept of Labor survey of farm workers in 2014, the most recent year of this survey. The programs most commonly utilized were Medicaid (37%), WIC (18%), food stamps (16%), and public health clinics (10%).

The expanded criteria for denying a green card to applicants include the following: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), SSI, Federal, state, and local cash benefit programs; SNAP; Section 8 Housing Vouchers; and Medicaid. CHIP is not included in the list of benefits but is being considered by DHS, according to the rule’s preamble.

The DOL report of farm workers is here.

(Thanks to Alexis Guild, Farmworker Justice).

For more from The Migration Policy Institute go here.

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