Public Charge Ruling Has Consequences for Local Families

in Strategic Education

On January 27, 2020, a Supreme Court ruling allowed the “public charge” rule to take temporarily take effect while lower courts continue to debate whether or not the rule is constitutional.

Under the policy, an immigrant would be considered a “public charge” — essentially dependent on government aid — if they receive at least one public benefit for more than 12 months within any three-year period. Benefits include Medicaid, food stamps, welfare or public housing vouchers. The Trump administration rule would also examine the likelihood of an immigrant using such benefits in the future. The rule, which represents a more stringent approach to a long-standing immigration law than those taken by recent administrations, is likely to make it harder for some immigrants to obtain a green card to reside permanently in the U.S.

These federal safety-net programs are essential for family well-being and stability, and by tying them to a family’s ability to gain legal status it is expected that many will forego participation in these vital programs in order to not jeopardize their legal status.

Already, the effects of this rule have had real consequences on immigrant families. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of community health centers reported that many or some immigrant patients have decided to not enroll in healthcare benefits because of the public charge rule. This rule will no doubt negatively impact the health and well-being of immigrant families and their children within our community.

That is why, in 2018, EFAA spoke out against the proposed rule alongside OUR Center and Sister Carmen Community Center in this statement.

For families in Boulder, EFAA is here to help. The public charge rule changes are not retroactive, meaning participation in the added programs before the rule changes became effective do not count in public charge considerations. EFAA serves all people regardless of immigration status, with food, financial assistance, housing and other basic necessities. Services received at EFAA would not be taken into consideration for a public charge determination.

For families looking for resources or legal advice regarding the public charge rule, the following resources are available:

Boulder County Housing & Human Services – Contact Boulder County Housing & Human Services if you are in need of legal advice but cannot afford to pay a fee

El Comite de Longmont – El Comite de Longmont can help you with any questions you have so you can make a more informed decision. A $10 donations is suggested, but if you cannot afford the fee let them know and the fee will be waived.

The Immigrant Legal Center of Boulder County – The Immigrant Legal Center of Boulder County (ILC) offer Public Charge consultations for $25. Call Maria at 303-444-1522 and mention you would like an immigration review related to public charge

Other resources:

Boulder County Immigrant Resources

Community Foundation of Boulder County