Press Release

Public charge rule would have negative impacts on low-income immigrants and family-based immigration

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The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) condemns the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) publication this week of its final public charge rule that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to immigrants who use such government services as nutrition programs and housing assistance.

Effective as of Oct. 15, 2019, the new rule would apply a new wealth test by expanding the number of public benefits that would make an individual subject to a public charge determination. It also adds age, health, and employability as factors that immigration and consular officers must use in deciding whether to grant green card status. AALDEF, together with hundreds of immigrant rights, civil rights, public health, and labor organizations, denounces this change, which threatens working families and children.

AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung said: “America is stronger when we support and strengthen immigrant families. This public charge rule change is the latest expansion of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, designed to instill fear in immigrant communities of color. It will force families to choose between their basic needs and being separated from their loved ones. We call on Congress to block funding of this regulation and to pass immigration legislation that maintains the principle of family reunification.”

The public charge rule change would have a disproportionately adverse impact on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. More than 31% of new green card holders are from Asian and Pacific Island countries, and three million people live in benefit-receiving families with at least one AAPI noncitizen. (See Migration Policy Institute, Millions Will Feel Chilling Effects of U.S. Public-Charge Rule That Is Also Likely to Reshape Legal Immigration, Aug. 2019, available here.) Since last fall, the chilling effect of this rule change has led to many AAPI families disenrolling from essential services for which they qualify. If implemented, the public charge regulation would undermine the safety, health, and well-being of immigrant families, as well as their U.S. citizen children.

“In the face of this administration’s latest cruel and racist policy, AALDEF, together with our communities and other advocates, will fight back against efforts to fundamentally change our immigration system,” said Annie Wang, Director of AALDEF’s Immigrant Justice Project. “We reject the “good” vs. “bad” immigrant narrative and stigmatizing individuals for using government programs. We believe that a country as rich in resources as ours should ensure that all Americans, native-born and immigrants alike, have access to food, medical care, shelter and education, and can seek a secure future.”
For more information, contact:
Annie J. Wang, Director, Immigrant Justice Project
212.966.5932 x213 –

Stan Mark, Senior Staff Attorney
212.966.5932 x204 –