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Statement on Proposed “Public Charge” Rule

Washington, D.C.– The following is a statement from Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center on the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule for immigrants:

“Our recent nationwide survey, the results of which were published in The New Middle on Immigration, found that many Americans worry that immigrants are taking government benefits that should go to Americans first, and want an immigration system that values hard-working people. In announcing its proposed ‘public charge’ rule, the Trump administration seeks to address those concerns. However, the proposed rule would single out legal immigrants who use just a small amount of benefits and punish those who are hard-working.

“While immigrants use benefits at lower rates than Americans overall, this rule would penalize hard-working immigrants who use even just a few dollars in benefits over a relatively short period to cover a one-time need. That’s not most people’s definition of a ‘public charge.’ The proposed rule would not increase benefits for native-born Americans, nor would it change when immigrants are eligible for state, local, or federal public benefits. But it would penalize those who use benefits for which they are eligible by taking away their chance at green cards or visas for family members.

“Further, this rule could hurt the many industries that employ lesser-skilled, but essential, workers. Industries like construction and agriculture need more workers and are trying to hire them legally under temporary worker visas but may not be able to do so if those workers cannot meet new and arbitrary standards of self-sufficiency.

“In short, this proposed rule falls short of the kind of modernized overhaul of our immigration system that Congress needs to embark upon, and reverts back to antiquated notions of immigrants as a drain on society. In contrast, our survey found that most Americans agree that immigrants are an essential part of our economy and society. We need a system that recognizes this and supports immigrants, not penalizes them.”