Proposed Immigration Rule Harms Families, Children, & Communities

Update: As expected, the public charge rule was published in the Federal Register on October 10th. The federal comment portal is available and the Protecting Immigrant Families comment microsite is live. The last day to submit comments in December 10, 2018.

September 25, 2018


This weekend, the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security announced a devastating “public charge” proposal that would force immigrants to forgo public benefits that help their families and children stay healthy and safe.

Note: This proposal has not yet taken effect; it must first be published in the Federal Register, followed by a 60-day comment period and the agency’s final review, before any changes can become law.

The proposed rule greatly expands the benefits that are considered in making public charge determinations, punishing immigrants who seek help to meet their families’ basic needs, such as nutrition, health care, and housing.

When every family can thrive, our communities become healthier and more vibrant, now and into the next generation. This harmful proposal places wealth over family, denying hardworking families a place in America, and robbing children of the chance to realize their full potential.

What about child care?

One piece of good news is that, as it is currently written, non-cash benefits that provide education, child-development, and job training will continue to be excluded from consideration in public charge determinations. This means that families can apply for affordable child care without worrying that it will put them at additional risk.

What’s next?

Once the rule is officially published—which could happen any day—we have 60 days to post comments before it can be finalized. The more unique (unduplicated) comments posted by people like you who care about the wellbeing of low-income people, the better our chances of changing or stopping the rule altogether.

When the proposed rule is officially posted in the federal register, the Child Care Law Center will provide instructions on how to submit comments opposing it, further analysis, and additional resources.

Important things to remember:

  • It will be several months before comments are received, reviewed, and the final rule becomes law.
  • The rule will have no retroactive effect. Only benefits received after the effective date of the final rule will be considered.
  • The public charge test is used when applying for admission to the U.S., or for legal residence.  It is not used when applying for citizenship.
  • There are many categories of immigrants that this does not apply to – asylees, refugees, VAWA, and other humanitarian groups.
  • Benefits received by a child born in the U.S. will not directly be a factor in a parent’s public charge test. However, if a child is an immigrant, those benefits will be considered.
  • Only non-cash benefits that are listed in the rule will be considered. If the rule does not specifically name a particular benefit, it will not be considered in the public charge determination.

Here is a link to the unofficial text of the proposed rule. The text may change when it is officially published.

For information on how to get involved with the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, go to The “Take Action” page explains how groups can connect with the campaign – including joining a national listserv, becoming an active member, and/or sharing a personal story.