Tag Archives: Madison Allen

Public Charge Is a Public Attack by Trump Administration

International students at risk of being deported, H1-B visa bans, and the pressing change in public charge all have one thing in common – they are targeted towards immigrants. 

It feels like a car crash caused by a distracted driver, with the wreckage laid bare on the road, making way for those with sturdier vehicles.

While the rest of us are putting on masks with trepidation, dousing our hands in sanitizer, and cautiously going to the grocery store, the Trump Administration’s public charge measure is making its mark on access to social services and the rise of minority deaths during the pandemic. 

Luvia Quiñones of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, explains during the June 26th EMS Briefing on strategies for keeping immigrant families safe, that the last time a change was made to public charge was in 1996. The current ruling gives permission to immigration officials (ICE) to predict, based on current income, skills, and assets, if the green card or visa applicant will potentially end up relying on the government for benefits. And if so, their application will be rejected.

Luvia Quiñones speaking at the EMS briefing on 6/26/20

The pointed measure barring immigrants from coming to the US and becoming citizens, also ensures that immigrants currently in the States are in constant fear. 

Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, Harbor UCLA Medical Center and frontline doctor for COVID-19, reminds us that, “We need to stop detaining immigrants in general”. Why? While USCIS has stated that they will not arrest any undocumented immigrants seeking COVID related help, Dr. Turner-Lloveras questions the intent.

“Do you think suddenly people would come to get care? Especially when they’ve been afraid for years?”

Hospitals and government organizations cannot be the ones to deliver COVID testing and related care to disenfranchised populations. The distrust of our administration, and rightly so, is increasing the risk of transmission and death related to coronavirus. Dr. Turner-Lloveras advocates for emergency health care in community clinics – a solution to the language barrier and scare tactics employed by ICE. 

Exacerbating the disproportionate deaths of marginalized communities in America are the detention centers for immigrants. Detention centers, on average, are high density and unhygienic, with a lack of access to healthcare and basic needs. But compounded with the pandemic, the dialogue must include the rampant medical abuse in such facilities. Detention centers place immigrants in high-risk situations beyond their control.

Image is taken from Freedom for Immigrants.

Yet, this is not where the anti-immigration policies end. The “Remain in Mexico” Program has displaced asylum seekers awaiting trial in the US court system, into high-density housing in unfamiliar territory and isolated their family – a human rights violation and a public health hazard.

The Trump Administration challenges immigrant safety and well being from two angles: policies preventing immigrant stake in the country and access to healthcare and benefits.

Public charge threatens an immigrant’s capacity to stay in the country and potentially apply for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, disability insurance, unemployment, any government subsidies. Dr. Turner-Lloveras reports that one in ten Latin American families apply for housing subsidies and one in three Latin American families avoid healthcare; these are the same families that are displaced, frontline staff and require assistance.

Connie Choi, Campaign Field Manager & Strategist at the National Immigration Law Center, provides some hope on the federal level, championing undocumented and immigrant rights on the Congress floor. NILC lobbied for the House to pass the Heroes Act, expanding benefits to the undocumented and other non-citizens, which passed on May 15th, 2020. However, this piece of legislation is currently being held up on the Senate floor. Choi urges constituents to call their senators and encourage them to prioritize the Heroes Act and to halt public charge.

For those that will be directly impacted by public charge, Madison Allen, Senior Policy Attorney at CLASP, clarified what is available for immigrant families to protect them during this turbulent time.

If you have a social security number, you can apply for cash assistance, SNAP, Emergency Medicaid, and unemployment insurance without impacting your public charge determination.

For those undocumented, you can apply for Pandemic EBT if you’ve lost free or reduced meals provided for your child by the school. Community health clinics will be providing testing and care for COVID; make sure to check their availability first. All children, regardless of status, are eligible for Medicaid; your child’s Medicaid will not be used to examine your immigration status.

Check your state and localities for benefits being applied by area and district. California Governor, Gavin Newson, implemented the California Disaster Assistance Program for undocumented populations. Through the program, each family can get $500 in direct assistance per person and $1000 per household.

All sources for help are linked within the article.

The wreckage is not a lost cause. I don’t see a totaled car. I see an unhinged door, a broken side mirror, a detached bumper. Focused intent and continuous pressure on our legislators can repair the damage. Our sources of strength lie within our community and with those that resonate with the immigrant plight. So, let’s get to it. As Lin Manuel Miranda raps in the Broadway musical Hamilton, “Immigrants, we get the job done!”

Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Trump’s Fear Tactics Find Favor with Supreme Court Ruling on Public Charge

On Jan 27 the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, lifted an injunction on the Trump administration’s Public Charge Rule, which allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement a policy that denies green cards and permanent resident visas to low-income immigrants and certain categories of legal immigrants, on grounds of inadmissibility.

DHS announced that the rule will take effect nationwide on February 24, 2020. 

Critics like Congresswoman Judy Chu say that entering America now comes with a price tag – the rule favors white and wealthy immigrants, and racially discriminates against poorer immigrant families. 

The National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians (NCAPIP) denounced the Supreme Court decision as an “anti-American, anti-immigrant, inhumane policy (that) is not only unethical, but short sighted and a detriment to the vitality and health of our communities.”

In effect, the policy discourages lawful residents that the government deems likely to rely on public benefits, from using vital human services like Medicaid, food stamps and other government benefits, in case that jeopardizes their path towards permanent residency, and by extension, citizenship. 

A telebriefing on how the Supreme Court’s decision on the Public Charge rule impacts immigrants, was hosted by the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign in partnership with Ethnic Media Services on Friday, January 31. A panel of experts explained the next steps planned by advocacy organizations and congressional allies, and what at-risk immigrants should do. 

The panel featured Congresswoman Judy Chu, Mayra Alvares, President of The Children’s Partnership, Alvaro Huerta of the National Immigration Law Center and Madison Allen, senior policy attorney at CLASP and Co-Chair of the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign.

Who is Affected

“The harm is evident” said Madison Allen, describing how vulnerable communities are responding to miscommunication and anti-immigrant rhetoric about Public Charge regulations. Families confused about how Public Charge impacts them are disenrolling from housing, nutrition and medical benefits programs that are essential to their health and wellbeing. 

USCIS  lists age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills as key factors that will be used to determine who meets the definition for public charge . “No single factor, other than the lack of an affidavit of support, if required, will determine whether an individual is a public charge.”

The law mainly affects immigrants applying for permanent resident status through family member petitions. There is a separate public charge test for people seeking visas from outside the country. 

Harmful Impact of Public Charge

The inadmissibility test with its expanded criteria on age, credit score and disability, will dramatically impact and reshape the immigrant system Allen points out, especially for people of color.

Unfortunately, the policy extends far beyond its intended recipients, says Mayra Alvarez of the Children’s Partnership (LA). Kaiser Family Foundation health centers report increasing numbers of immigrants disenrolling from medical coverage and 90 percent of providers in the survey reported increased anxiety among children. 

Social services and health centers across the country are documenting an increase in calls about whether it’s safe to stay enrolled in health, nutrition and housing programs, and, legal aid attorneys are fielding calls from sexual assault and domestic violence survivors who are fearful of staying enrolled in their benefits program even as they are trying to rebuild their lives. 

The ruling has created ‘a climate of fear’ that is negatively impacting the wellbeing of families who are worried at having to choose between food, medical care, and being together. People are withdrawing from benefits programs supported by tax dollars, even if they are exempt from the Public Charge rule, fearful that their receipt of public benefits will endanger their immigration status. 

Who is NOT Affected

Most immigrants are not affected, says Alvares. People who are exempt include pregnant women, children under 21, people with disabilities and mothers within 60 days after giving birth.

Other programs not subject to Public Charge include:

– Medicaid and health insurance and health services other than support for long-term institutional care.
– WIC, CHIP, SHELTERS, HEADSTART, HUD public housing, foodstamps, Section 8 housing benefits and other non-cash benefits and special-purpose cash benefits that are not intended for income maintenance.

Immigrants applying for citizenship need not worry unless they are planning to leave the country for longer than six months.

How Congress is Responding

Democrat Rep. Judy Chu of California said the Trump administration was ‘on a mission to spread fear and uncertainty among immigrants in the United States.’ The Public Charge was one of ‘a steady stream of anti-immigrant policies’  issued by the White House. Its discriminatory impact has pushed even legal immigrants who have qualified and paid for services to disenroll from these programs, putting families and children at risk for poor health outcomes and living in poverty. Congresswoman Chu has introduced a bill (HR 3222) to prevent any federal dollars from being used to implement the rule, and as Co-Chair of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, also announced that Tri-Caucus leaders have submitted briefs that support litigation opposing the public charge rule  which blatantly discriminates  against immigrants of color.” 

Litigation against Public Charge continues.

Fortunately, says Alvaro Huerta (NILC), the State of Illinois achieved an injunction which is still in effect, that blocks DHS from implementing the new public charge rule there. Lawsuits challenging the rule continue to be filed across the nation in California, New York, Maryland and other districts courts, to determine whether the Trump administration violated the law when it finalized the Public Charge regulation.  Arguments focus on whether the administration failed to consider evidence provided by thousands of commenters on the harm that a racially motivated ruling would cause as it went into effect. 

How to Demystify Public Charge impacts and Fight Back

The key takeaways, says Madison Allen, is to understand who is not affected, which immigrants are most at risk, what programs are exempt and what benefits used by family members are subject to public charge consideration.

Families need to work with community partners and get advice from immigration attorneys to understand how public charge impacts them, cautions Mayra Alvarez. “It is essential that families know their rights”  and find low cost options to get legal assistance.  

Facts Sheets and resources are available at:

Meera Kymal is a Contributing Editor at India Currents