*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Trump Administration Proposal: Punish Immigrants for Using Basic Social Services

On August 8th, 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Trump Administration is planning to roll out a new rule that would punish legal immigrants for using basic social services. The proposal, which has yet to be finalized, would impose penalties on lawful immigrants who are seeking permanent status in the United States if they use healthcare services that are funded by the U.S. government.

The rule change would be a dramatic attack on the rights of immigrants. As Alberto Gonzalez of the healthcare advocacy group Community Catalyst told reporters from the Washington Post, the Trump Administration’s proposed rule change will make it far more difficult for many immigrant families to access critically needed health services.

Understanding the Rule Change: Broadening the Definition of a ‘Public Charge’

Under United States law, it is already more difficult for immigrants to access to the same social services that are available to native-born residents. As explained by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the term ‘public charge’ is used to a person who is largely dependent on government services for financial assistance. If a person is determined to be a ‘likely public charge’, they can be denied admission or permanent resident status in the United States.

The Trump Administration wants to substantially broaden this category. Specifically, this entails changing the law to consider all members of an immigrant’s household when determining who qualifies as a ‘likely public charge’. This is a big deal. First and foremost, this is a backdoor attack on the basis of the family immigration system.

There is no doubt that this change would have destructive effects on many families. For example, if a family had a disabled child, they would be required to forego treatment and services or risk losing out on their ability to become lawful permanent residents. Essentially, this rule would open the door to closing off immigration to any person who has a significant disability or medical condition or who has an immediate family member with a disability or medical condition.

What Can We Do to Stop This?

The good news is that this proposal is by no means a done deal. We still have an opportunity to fight back. If the Trump Administration plans to move forward with this, which the current reporting indicates is likely, they will have to submit a ‘finalized’ version of the proposed rule to the Federal Register for public comment. During this comment period, it is imperative that the public makes its voice heard in support of immigrant rights. From there, legal action may need to be taken to challenge the rule. Of course, ultimately, elections are the key to protecting immigrant rights.

Get Immigration Law Help in Los Angeles

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud to be strong advocates for immigrants. If you or your loved one needs immigration law advice, please contact us today at (213) 262-2000. We have an office in Los Angeles and serve communities throughout Southern California, including Santa Monica, Torrance, Alhambra, and Monterey Park.