That’s what the new federal “Public Charge” rule  means for immigrants.
The rule, to be implemented by the Trump administration on October 15, adds new criteria to the factors deciding whether to grant legal permanent status to those undocumented immigrants who apply for it. That criteria says if an applicant is enrolled in public benefits programs during 12 months of any 36 month period prior to the application they are likely to become a “public charge” and discourages approval of such applications. Those benefits include Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), Section 8 housing subsidies, or NYCHA residency.
The new rule does not apply to those who already have a green card—only those who are currently undocumented and seeking to obtain one. It does not affect eligibility for those public benefits. But it targets low-income immigrants (i.e. those most likely to need public help) and deters them from obtaining such help. And the rule may very well create grievous health effects by delaying treatment of undetected health problems.
Fear of the administration’s policies is rampant in the immigrant community. In New York City, applications for SNAP benefits by non-citizens dropped at twice the rate of eligible citizens between 2017 and 2018, and at almost four times the rate of citizens between 2018 and 2019.
In response, my office is mounting two efforts on September 5 to inform Manhattan’s immigrant community (and those who serve them):
- Day of Action: On the morning of Sept. 5, opening day at Manhattan public schools, my staff and volunteers will distribute fact sheets about the new rule. If you’d like to join us, please sign up here .
- Town Hall: At 6:00 pm on Sept. 5, my office will join with the New York Immigration Coalition to host an informative town hall  for all those who wish to learn more about the new rule—immigrants themselves, and those who frequently serve them. Please join us at Synod House of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam (at 110th St.)
New York is a city of immigrants. As is our nation. This, the latest attack from the administration on those who come to our country and seek a better life, will be met by all city officials—not just myself—with resistance.