Statement on White House’s proposed changes to public charge

The Melanin Collective strongly opposes a proposed change from the Trump administration that would greatly curtail aspiring Americans’ ability to become lawful permanent residents, if they have used certain public assistance and safety net programs.

“Public charge” refers to an individual who is likely to become dependent on the government for long-term care, and any individual who is likely to become a public charge is ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident. However, under current policy, the public charge statute requires immigration officials to look at all factors that relates to noncitizens’ ability to support themselves, including their age, health, income, assets, education and skills, and family to support, when making a determination – one factor does not outweigh the whole. Furthermore, the public charge test is forward-looking, meaning that past behavior will not impact the determination.

The Trump administration’s proposed change completely flips the public charge determination on its head, and now will flat-out deny green cards for immigrants who legally used public benefits in the past. Simply put, if an immigrant has used SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, or Medicare prescription drug program, that will now be used against them. This new move will put millions of poor immigrants in a catch-22 situation: they can either use public benefits to get the care they need for themselves and their families but be denied green cards, or forgo care at great risk to themselves and their wellbeing.

Time and again, this administration has shown us it has no qualms punishing people and families for helping themselves when they have fallen on hard times, particularly communities of color. The Melanin Collective stands firmly against this xenophobic and racist policy.

Please consider supporting organizations who are doing the crucial work to ensure immigrant communities can keep their heads above water in these dangerous times.

The Melanin Collective