On September 22, the Trump Administration issued a proposed rule change regarding immigration policy that would expand the number of public programs taken into consideration in determining whether a immigrant is a “public charge” who would be dependent on public funding. The public charge determination would negatively impact whether an immigrant should be admitted to the United States or given permanent residence with green cards.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and other aging advocates have raised concerns not only about the impact on older immigrants using public benefits but also about the 1 in 4 direct care workers who are immigrants in health and service professions taking care of seniors and the disabled. Advocates worry that immigrants will forego needed benefits in order to preserve chances for a green card.
NCOA said, “If the rule is finalized in its proposed form, this would mark a significant and harmful departure from the current policy. For over a hundred years, the government has recognized that work supports like health care and nutrition help families thrive and remain productive. And decades ago, the government clarified that immigrant families can seek health and nutrition benetits without fearing that doing so will harm their immigration case. If this rule is finalized, we can no longer offer that assurance. Benefits that could be considered in a “public charge” determination targets key programs that help participants meet their basic needs, such as: •
Non-emergency Medicaid (with limited exceptions for certain disability services related to education).
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
• Low Income Subsidy for prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D;