UndocuBlack Network’s Statement on Public Charge Rule: White Supremacist in Charge Proceeds With Racist and Classist Regulation Despite Public Protest

August 14, 2019

For Immediate Release 

Contact: nekessa@undocublack.org

Washington, DC - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) final “public charge” rule was published today, kicking off a 60 day waiting period before the regulation goes into effect on October 15, 2019. The change in policy deviates from the existing guidance since 1999 making it harder for people to get green cards, adjust visa status or enter the U.S.  

The rule imposes a new wealth test based on income levels and an assumption on the likelihood of immigrant families receiving certain newly added health care, nutrition or housing programs as of October 15, 2019. These social programs include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps),Section 8 housing choice voucher program, Section 8 project-based rental assistance, and public housing.  The new public charge test also adds specific standards for income, health, age, family status (household size), education, skills as well as English proficiency. For those who fail the test, DHS could make them pay a bond, a provision that currently exists, but has rarely been used. 

Jonathan Jayes-Green, Co-Founder and Director, UndocuBlack Network: "To be clear, Trump’s final public charge regulation is still racist, classist and part of his administration's white supremacist agenda to whiten the composition of this country. It is immoral, cruel and forces people to choose between their basic needs and the people they love. Across the country, out of fear, people are pulling out of public benefits that they qualify for. We reject these fear-based tactics and we will fight back as we always have." 

In our organizational public comment to DHS, the UndocuBlack Network outlined some of the damaging effects that the rule change would cause particularly for Black immigrants.  Despite overwhelming opposition to the public charge rule change, DHS has finalized it’s decision without implementing public feedback. By their own admission, DHS reports that “[they] received 266,077 comments on the proposed rule, the vast majority of which opposed the rule”.

The public charge rule is a Black issue as Black immigrants made up nearly one-quarter of people who became lawful permanent residents in 2017. Subsequently, the proposed rule could potentially harm an estimated 1.8 million Black immigrants and their families.

History has taught us that institutional discriminatory practices and reform have devastating and irreversible impact on our Black communities. Current research shows that immigrants are already avoiding programs that make them healthier and stronger out of fear and confusion about the impact of the public charge rule changes. Indeed, this is the point of the rule in the first place.  We have the tools and resolve needed to fight back, disarm and dismantle white supremacy by radically shifting policy that works for all our people We are ready to do just that. 

As this rule goes into effect on October 15th, 2019 UndocuBlack will join the fight for our dignity and our lives to ensure that it does not remain in effect.