For more than 100 years, immigrants seeking to obtain lawful immigration status in the U.S. have had to prove to the government that they are not “public charges,” i.e., that they will not be dependent on the government for support. However, for almost 20 years, the federal government has clearly stated that immigrants who are eligible may use programs that are key to healthy outcomes for children and families, such as Medicaid, WIC nutrition assistance, and SNAP (food stamps). The current law states that any benefits used by immigrants’ U.S. citizen children or family members do not count against the immigrants themselves.
A new draft rule from the Trump Administration—and likely to be considered in the upcoming weeks—states that if immigrants use these critical health and nutritional programs the government will use it against them in determining whether they can obtain lawful immigration status. Further, the rule says that any benefits used by an immigrant’s U.S. citizen children or dependents can be used against her as well.