Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks New Public Charge Rule

Last Friday a federal judge in Manhattan became the first in the country to block enforcement of the recently instated “public charge” immigration rule. The rule seeks to significantly restrict people who might need federal benefits such as Medicare or SNAP from obtaining legal immigration status.

The public charge rule would negatively impact people with disabilities and their families seeking to enter our country and has been denounced by The Arc. Additionally, The Arc partnered with 17 other disability rights organizations in filing an amicus brief against the public charge rule. We are hopeful that the judge’s block will hold, and will continue to follow the story as it develops.

To learn more about the block read this report from Reuters, or go in depth and read the 24 page ruling.

The Public Charge Regulation and Public Education and Programs Provided by Schools

Tony Thurmond, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction issued a statement last week clarifying the impact that the federal Public Charge regulation will have on student access to K-12 public school education, and programs such as school lunch and summer food service. Essential takeaways include:

Public education is not a public benefit covered by the rule – Attending school will not negatively effect a child or family member’s immigration status
The final rule generally does not apply to programs delivered by kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) schools, such as school nutrition

The full statement can be found here.

Developments and Resources for the Public Charge Rule

September 9, 2019 – The Arc and seventeen other national disability advocacy groups filed an amicus brief in support of litigation to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its new “public charge” rule. The advocacy groups – representing tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families across the country – claim that the new public charge rule will prevent people with disabilities from entering this country or becoming legal residents in violation of federal disability law.

Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc said, “This new policy is devastating to many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It discourages immigrant families from utilizing critical public services out of fear of harming their immigration status. The rule will increase poverty, hurt public health, and worsen housing instability. It’s the latest callous tactic in restricting access to necessary services and supports. The Arc continues our work to ensure that non-citizens with any type of disability have a fair opportunity to enter and reside legally in the U.S., without unnecessary or discriminatory restrictions based on their disability.”

Read more about the brief here: https://thearc.org/disability-advocacy-groups-file-amicus-brief-opposing-the-administrations-public-charge-rule-as-illegal-disability-discrimination/?fbclid=IwAR3R7sZtgmJLY-oBfYaOcNvSHdy1g0immdP_x9ZMTvJauu-ORj2Hpf40Bxg

September 11, 2019 – The California Health and Human Services Agency responds to the rule by issuing an up to date public charge guide available here. This guide is a vital resource for those who think this rule may affect them and anyone working with people with disabilities and their families in the state of California.

UPDATED: The Arc Responds to Cruel DHS Public Charge Rule That Hurts People with Disabilities and Their Families

NEW RESOURCES AVAILABLE: Know Your Rights from Protecting Immigrant Families

The Arc denounces the harmful rule that was finalized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday, August 14. This new rule discriminates against people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, among others. It allows the federal government to deny admission into the U.S. and unfairly restructures immigration in a way that is detrimental to individuals based on their disability and the use of vital programs like Medicaid.

The DHS final rule means the government will consider a significantly expanded list of factors to determine whether a person will be considered a “public charge.” A public charge is a person that the government thinks will (currently or in the future) be dependent on the government for support. The rule will hurt children and adults based on disabilities and chronic conditions. The use of many programs such as most Medicaid services (including regional center services and Media-Cal), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or also referred to as CalFresh), housing assistance, and other important benefits will also be considered in the public charge test. DHS acknowledges that the new rule may have an outsized impact on people with disabilities.

“This new policy is devastating to many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It discourages immigrant families from utilizing critical public services out of fear of harming their immigration status. The rule will increase poverty, hurt public health, and worsen housing instability. It’s the latest callous tactic in restricting access to necessary services and supports. The Arc continues our work to ensure that non-citizens with any type of disability have a fair opportunity to enter and reside legally in the U.S., without unnecessary or discriminatory restrictions based on their disability,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc opposed the rule and submitted comments with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities when the rule was proposed in 2018.

What Do We Do Now?

This rule has already had a chilling effect on Californians with disabilities in need of public services. It is critical that families, advocates, regional centers, service providers, county administrators, and more make specific outreach efforts to individuals and families that are disenrolling from services and supports. Knowledge and information is most important right now. Here are a few facts:

  • The public charge regulation does not apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) applying for citizenship, refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others.
  • The rule won’t go into effect until mid-October, and it is only prospective, meaning that any services or supports used before then would not be considered.
  • The State of California is filing a lawsuit and will seek a preliminary injunction to stall enforcement of the new rule until the courts rule whether or not it is legal. Many other organizations are also filing lawsuits. You can view the press conference with Governor Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra announcing the lawsuit here.
  • Some public services are not included in the rule, including Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and pregnant mothers.

There are many organizations contracted with the state to provide free legal assistance to immigrant families that are concerned about the new rule. The California Department of Social Services has a list of organizations throughout the state that will answer questions and provide information, education, and/or outreach services specifically related to public charge. Local disability organizations are encouraged to contact one of these organizations in their region to coordinate outreach activities. https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Benefits-Services/More-Services/Immigration-Services/Immigration-Services-Contractors/Public-Charge-Contact-List

The Arc Responds to Cruel DHS Public Charge Rule That Hurts People with Disabilities and Their Families

The Arc denounces the harmful rule finalized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday, August 14. This new rule discriminates against people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, among others. It allows the federal government to deny admission into the U.S. and unfairly restructures immigration in a way that is detrimental to individuals based on their disability and the use of vital programs like Medicaid.

The DHS final rule means the government will consider a significantly expanded list of factors to determine whether a person will be considered a “public charge.” A public charge is a person that the government thinks will (currently or in the future) be dependent on the government for support. The rule will hurt children and adults based on disabilities and chronic conditions. The use of many programs such as most Medicaid services (including regional center services and Media-Cal), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or also referred to as CalFresh), housing assistance, and other important benefits will also be considered in the public charge test. DHS acknowledges that the new rule may have an outsized impact on people with disabilities.

“This new policy is devastating to many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It discourages immigrant families from utilizing critical public services out of fear of harming their immigration status. The rule will increase poverty, hurt public health, and worsen housing instability. It’s the latest callous tactic in restricting access to necessary services and supports. The Arc continues our work to ensure that non-citizens with any type of disability have a fair opportunity to enter and reside legally in the U.S., without unnecessary or discriminatory restrictions based on their disability,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc opposed the rule and submitted comments with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities when the rule was proposed in 2018.

What Do We Do Now?

This rule has already had a chilling effect on Californians with disabilities in need of public services. It is critical that families, advocates, regional centers, service providers, county administrators, and more make specific outreach efforts to individuals and families that are disenrolling from services and supports. Knowledge and information is most important right now. Here are a few facts:

  • The public charge regulation does not apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) applying for citizenship, refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others.
  • The rule won’t go into effect until mid-October, and it is only prospective, meaning that any services or supports used before then would not be considered.
  • The State of California is filing a lawsuit and will seek a preliminary injunction to stall enforcement of the new rule until the courts rule whether or not it is legal. Many other organizations are also filing lawsuits. You can view the press conference with Governor Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra announcing the lawsuit here.
  • Some public services are not included in the rule, including Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and pregnant mothers.

There are many organizations contracted with the state to provide free legal assistance to immigrant families that are concerned about the new rule. The California Department of Social Services has a list of organizations throughout the state that will answer questions and provide information, education, and/or outreach services specifically related to public charge. Local disability organizations are encouraged to contact one of these organizations in their region to coordinate outreach activities. https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Benefits-Services/More-Services/Immigration-Services/Immigration-Services-Contractors/Public-Charge-Contact-List