The Rhode Island Immigrant Coalition strongly opposes the
changes to the public charge rules which were published in final form on
Monday. The rule threatens the health of thousands of Rhode Island families,
weaponizing health and human services programs against lawfully present
immigrants and their families, including U.S. born children. The Coalition and many Rhode Island
organizations submitted comments against the regulation when it was proposed
last fall. Overall more than 266,000
public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition to the rule, were received.
“This rule is just one of a number of the Administration’s
attacks on immigrants,” said Karina Valencia, Staff Attorney of the Rhode
Island Immigrant Coalition. “We will continue to fight back against this
anti-children, anti-family agenda, including family separation at the border
and rules blocking access to health care, food and homes.”
The final regulation puts applications for lawful permanent
residence (green card) at risk if an immigrant has used Medicaid, the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) or Section 8 rent vouchers.
Under prior rules, only receipt of cash welfare or Medicaid long term care were
considered as part of the green card application process. Citizenship applications are not subject to
“public charge” regulation and refugees, asylees, and other immigrant statuses
are also exempt. This is not changed under the new rule.
“The proposed rule had a chilling effect on
families accessing the benefits they need to meet basic needs,” said Linda
Katz, Policy Director at the Economic Progress Institute. “One way to fight back
against this horrible rule is to work together to ensure families know the
benefits they can get without jeopardizing their immigration status. For
example, receipt of Medicaid by an immigrant under age 21 and by a pregnant
woman during pregnancy and 60 days post-partum will not impact getting a green
The City and County of San Francisco and the County of Santa
Clara filed a lawsuit against the rule on August 13 and other organizations and
states attorney general are also preparing litigation. The lawsuits seek to
stop the rule from going into effect. In
addition, Congress can block the regulation’s implementation.
“We are one community- our children go to school together, we
work side-by-side with people who have come to this country for a better life,
our health is intertwined, said Arely Diaz of Alianza para Movilizar Nuestra
Resistencia (AMOR). We remain united in
fighting back against this Administration’s continued attacks against our
The Rhode Island Immigrant Coalition is a group of
thirty-five community organizations that was formed to support and respond to
the growing needs of the immigrant population throughout the state.