NJPP Statement: Restricting Low-Income Immigrants is Un-American

Over the weekend, the Trump administration announced its proposal to amend a 100 plus year-old immigration rule that would change how the federal government categorizes immigrants as a “public charge.”

Statement from NJPP Policy Analyst Erika J. Nava:
“Prioritizing well-off immigrants while penalizing those struggling to provide for their families is state sponsored cruelty and runs counter to American values. No family should have to choose between having their basic needs met and being separated from their family. New Jersey has the third largest share of immigrants in the nation, including a large percentage of mixed-status families who will be impacted tremendously by this policy change. Lawmakers must fight back against this proposal to keep New Jersey families together.”

Existing Law:
Currently, immigrants who want to adjust their immigration status to Legal Permanent Residency or enter the country with a U.S. visa would be deemed ineligible and likely to become a “public charge” if they used the following:

  • Cash assistance – such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and comparable state or local programs, or
  • Government-funded long-term institutional care
The Rule Change:
The proposed rule would include other programs such as: SNAP (food assistance), public housing, non-emergency Medicaid, and Medicare Part D. In addition, it would require those petitioning to earn at least 125% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and give preference to a households with incomes at 250% of the FPL. For example, a family of four would need to earn at least $63,000 annually to avoid scrutiny under the new public charge test.

As in the 1900s, the federal government proposes to stipulate an immigrants’ native region and immigration status to restrict access to the United States.

Once the proposed rule becomes official there will be a 60-day comment period. NJPP plans to release a fact sheet detailing how the proposed rule would impact New Jersey’s economy and immigrant communities.