November 5, 2018 IN: Resources & toolkits
Protecting Southeast Asian Immigrant Families: Public Charge Campaign Toolkit
What you need to know to fight against the public charge proposal
The Trump administration continues to attack immigrant and refugee communities. This recent attack, through a proposed expansion of public charge determination, has the potential to harm low-income immigrant communities, in particular. Here’s what you need to know to protect your family and fight back!
1. Understanding Public Charge
-Current status of public charge
-Proposed changes to public charge
2. Community Impact
-Southeast Asian American impact
3. Talking About Public Charge
-Talking to your community
-Talking to family and friends
5. Take Action!
-How to join the campaign
6. Social media resources
-Social media images
7. Learn more
–In-language materials (Vietnamese, Cambodian)
SECTION 1: UNDERSTANDING PUBLIC CHARGE
Public charge is a test used to determine if a person seeking admission to the United States or wanting to obtain a green card while in the country is likely to rely on government services for support.
Public Charge Determination
When a person in the United States applies for a green card, the application information, along with an interview by immigration officials, determines if a person is likely to rely on government services for support. If a person is considered a public charge, he or she may be denied a green card.
Currently, the only government benefits considered in the public charge determination are:
- Public cash assistance
- Institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.
Receiving public benefits does not automatically make an individual a public charge. Additional factors must be considered:
- Family status
- Financial status
- Education and skills
Note: Changes are already in effect to the public charge determination for those seeking to enter the United States.
The Trump Administration wants to redefine the public charge determination for people seeking a green card in the United States. The major concerns for the Southeast Asian immigrant community are changes seeking to:
- Expand the list of government benefits to include:
- Non-emergency Medicaid
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps)
- Medicare Part D low-income subsidy for prescription drug costs
- Housing assistance (section 8 housing vouchers and rental assistance)
- Increase how much income the applicant makes
- For a family of four, individuals would need to earn more than $63,000 annually to be weighed positively, or overcome other negative factors.
- Proposes additional standards for immigration officials to consider
- People with limited English speaking skills could be viewed negatively, as the officer may consider it a barrier to employment.
SECTION 2: COMMUNITY IMPACT
Impacted: the following individuals are greatly impacted by this proposal
- Individuals currently living in the United States applying to obtain a green card
- Individuals currently living in the United States seeking to extend or change their non-immigrant visa
- US citizen children whose parents have not obtain their green card
Exemptions: the following individuals are exempt from the determination
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Current green card holders, including those seeking to naturalize
- Victims of human trafficking
- Self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act
Southeast Asian American impact
While refugees are exempt from public charge determination, low-income SEAAs arriving here through family visas will likely be the most vulnerable to this proposed rule.
Many SEAAs residing in the United States have become naturalized US citizens and lawful permanent residents who are able to sponsor their families to reunite with them. In 2016, more than 90% of immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam who received a green card were able to do so due to a family-based visa petition.
Since SEAAs rely heavily on programs like SNAP and Medicaid, this rule may force families to choose between their health and protecting their immigration status.
SECTION 3: TALKING ABOUT PUBLIC CHARGE
- The law on public charge in the United States has not changed; this is a proposal.
- The public charge test looks at all the person’s circumstances, not just government benefits received.
- If it becomes final, it will take additional time to implement—giving you and your family time to decide whether you want to continue government assistance. Benefits used before that time will not be considered.
- Not all immigrants are subject to the public charge test. Those who enter the country as refugees are exempt.
- The proposal is currently open for public comments to which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must respond before the rule becomes final.
- Submitting a comment allows the public to demand that the administration remain accountable to the people by asking DHS to explain its actions. It also demonstrates the importance of the issue to policymakers and allows those potentially impacted to express their concerns.
SECTION 4: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is impacted by the new proposed public charge rule?
- Individuals currently living in the United States applying to obtain a green card
- Individuals currently living in the United States seeking to extend or change the category of a non-immigrant visa
- US citizen children whose parents have not obtain their green cards
NOTE: Refugees and asylees are NOT impacted by this proposal.
Will I be considered a “public charge” if I used benefits in the past?
The rule looks forward. Benefits, with the exception of cash or long-term care at government expense, used before the rule is final and effective are NOT considered in the public charge determination. All benefits received after the rule are considered.
Do the proposed changes impact my eligibility to apply for government benefits?
No. The proposed changes have no bearing on an individual’s eligibility. However, families may have to make tough decisions between their ability to adjust their immigration status or accessing critical benefits for their family’s survival.
If the rule becomes law, should I disenroll from benefits?
You must consider what is in the best interest of you and your family. If the rule is finalized, there will be at least 60 days before the rule is effective. During that time, you will have an opportunity to decide whether to discontinue your benefits.
If family or household members use government benefits, will it be considered in the public charge test if I apply for a green card?
No. In the proposed rule, only the use of benefits by the person applying for a green card is taken into consideration.
If my parents are considered a “public charge,” and I’m a dependent/minor, would that affect my ability to get a green card as well?
Yes. Minor children derive their permanent resident status from their parents. If a parent is unable to obtain a green card, children under 18 will not be eligible either.
If other household members are on these programs, will it weigh negatively against me?
No. Additional household members have no bearing on a person’s public charge determination card. Only the applicant’s use of benefits are considered.
Does the public charge test apply if I am renewing my green card?
No. A person’s lawful permanent residence does not expire when the green card expires.
What if I am undocumented?
If you are undocumented, you are not eligible for many government benefits. However, your US citizen children are eligible. You need to provide information about your child’s citizenship or immigration status. You do not have to provide your immigration status or the statuses of other household members.
Can a person be deported if he or she becomes dependent on public benefits?
In extremely rare circumstances, a person who has become a public charge could be deported. These rules are very narrow and have almost never been applied. The proposed rule does not change or expand this rule.
SECTION 4: TAKE ACTION!
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
SEARAC joined the Protecting Immigrant Families National Campaign to fight against this harmful proposal. Our goal is to collect at least 1,000 comments from community members and supporters across the country. There are several ways to engage.
Community Members and Supporters
1. Submit a comment. Tell the Administration you oppose this harmful proposal. A template letter is provided. If possible, edit the template and add your personal story. We want to collect as many unique comments as possible.
2. Educate and engage your network. Encourage others to submit a comment.
3. Send an email or text message to their friends and family.
4. Post to social media Share your story. If you or a family/community member are an immigrant that will be hurt by this regulation, please consider sharing your story. Your story is your voice! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with someone from our team.
*Scripts, images, and tweets are provided in the social media section
1. Collect comments. Print this form and have those who visit your organization review the comment and provide their name, email, and zip code. You can scan and email the form to email@example.com. SEARAC will submit the comment on your behalf.
2. Share with your network. Forward bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge to your listservs and encourage them to submit a comment.
3. Post on social media. Images, below, are provided so that you can share on your organization’s social media pages.
SECTION 5: SOCIAL MEDIA
SEAA Family and Friends
I joined a national campaign to fight against the Trump Administration’s most recent attack on our immigrant communities. The Administration is proposing a regulation that would make it harder for us to reunite with our family and become lawful permanent residents of this country. The goal is to collect 1,000 comments by December 10, 2018. If you’d like more details about this harmful regulation, click here. If you want to comment now, follow this link. There is template comment already provided for you, but feel free to edit.
I need your help! I joined a national campaign to fight against the Trump Administration’s recent attack on our immigrant and refugee communities. The goal is to collect 1,000 comments opposing this attack on future immigration by December 10, 2018 Comment now at bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge.
I joined a national campaign to support Southeast Asian Americans and other immigrant communities who are fighting against the Trump Administration’s recent attack. The Administration is proposing a regulation that would make it harder for them to reunite with their family and become lawful permanent residents of this country. The goal is to collect 1,000 comments by December 10.
Need to learn more? Check out SEARAC’s toolkit.
Ready to comment? If you want to comment now, follow this link. There is a template comment already provided for you, but feel free to edit. Please join me in standing with other communities of color.
“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” – Thurgood Marshall
Please join me in supporting Southeast Asian Americans and other immigrant communities fighting against the Trump Administration’s attack. There is a proposed regulation that would make it harder for them to reunite with their family and become lawful permanent residents of this country. The goal is to collect 1,000 comments by December 10. Comment now at bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge. #weareonenation
[Organization Name] is part of a national campaign to fight against the Trump Administration’s attack on immigrant communities. There is a proposed regulation that would make it harder for us to reunite with our families and become lawful permanent residents of this country. The goal is to collect 1,000 comments from the Southeast Asian American community to oppose this harmful regulation. The deadline is December 10.
2. If you would like to collect community comments, please download and print this form.
3. Learn more about the specific impacts on immigrant communities by reading a resource from SEARAC.
Help [Organization Name] fight against the Trump Administration’s attack on our communities. The Administration has proposed regulation that would make it harder for immigrant communities to reunite with their families and become lawful permanent residents of this country. We want to collect 1,000 community comments by December 10. Comment now at bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge.
.@DHS wants to expand public charge determination for immigrants. Help @SEARAC send a loud and clear message to rejecting this BAD idea. #AAPI and #SEAA communities have a right to be seen and heard. #ProtectFamilies #OneNation Speak up! bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge
.@OMBPress, an expansion of public charge determination on immigrants would harm #AAPI and SEAA communities. Let@DHS know we stand to #ProtectFamilies as #OneNation. Speak up! @SEARAC: bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge
It will only take a minute to tell @OMBPress that the @DHS’s proposal to expand public charge determination harms #AAPI and SEAA communities.#ProtectFamilies #OneNation @SEARAC: bit.ly/SEARACPublicCharge
SECTION 5: MORE RESOURCES
If you would like to support by collecting comments from community members, please use this form. You can scan and email the completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feeling informed and knowledgeable about public charge? Submit your comment using the form below!