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Public Charge

Public Charge


What is public charge?

The term “public charge” is used by U.S. immigration officials to refer to a person who is considered primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. A determination of public charge can impact the ability of certain immigrant’s to enter the U.S. or to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

What and who is at risk?

The Trump Administration leaked a draft proposal in early 2018 that would change the longstanding federal immigration rule about “public charge” by expanding the types of programs which could be counted towards an individual’s public charge determination. These regulations if proposed, would jeopardize the status of millions of California’s immigrants including those who use or whose children use health, housing, nutrition and other key safety net services. Under the leaked draft rule, immigrants here lawfully could be passed over for permanent residency (ie. a green card) and possibly deported, if they use Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), access subsidies in Covered California, food stamps or tax credits, amongst other non-cash government benefits. Parents with U.S. citizen children who access health care or other benefits could also see their permanent residency applications jeopardized. The rule would impact immigrants in the U.S. on a visa or those seeking to extend or change their temporary nonimmigrant status in the U.S. 

What is the current status?

The Administration has yet to move forward on this proposal. Stay tuned for further information and resources including a sample comment letter you can use to share your opposition should this proposal move forward.

What can you do to fight these harmful changes?

  • Share your Story - If you or your family will be affected by these proposed changes you have an important story to tell! 
  • Meet with Your Member of Congress - Join CPEHN and partners in visits across the state to educate state and local legislators about the sweeping negative consequences any change public charge will have on our communities. 
  • Submit Public Comments - Once the Notice Propose Rule Making is officially published we will have 30-60 days to submit written comments. Be prepared to join us in showing overwhelming public support for immigrant families. 

Sign up here to get in touch with us on these action opportunities!

You are also welcome to reach out to us directly -- contact Keerti Kanchinadam at or 510-832-1160. 



Click here to download this video by The Children's Partnership.

Fact Sheets

Public Charge: A New Threat to Immigrant Families (English) | (Spanish) | CLASP

Potential Effects of Public Charge Changes on Health Coverage for Citizen Children | Kaiser Family Foundation

Immigrants' Health Fact Sheet (English) | Health Consumer Alliance

Public Charge: What You Should Know (English) | Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles


Chilling Effects: The Expected Public Charge Rule and Its Impact on Legal Immigrant Families' Public Benefits Use | Migration Policy Institute












Social Media: Sample Tweets

Sample Tweets from The Children's Partnership:

  • The Trump Admin is rumored to propose changes to fed immigration laws about “public charge”. The health of millions of CA children is at risk w/ potential changes that would punish immigrant families 4 taking care of their children. Learn more
  • The fed gov’t is trying to change the rules, in doing so, punishing families 4 taking care of their children. Public Charge refers to people who primarily rely on the gov’t to support the cost of day-to-day living. Find out more in our new video
  • So far NOTHING has changed for immigrants in the U.S. but there are proposed changes that would add services to the list that could be considered when deeming someone a #PublicCharge. Find out what services this could include in @KidsPartnership’s video
  • Using benefits is never the only factor when deciding who might be a #publiccharge. It also does not apply to certain groups of immigrants. Find out who could be affected in @KidsPartnership new video
  • If the changes to #PublicCharge go through, health programs like #Medicaid, #CHIP, or Tax credits that help people get insurance through marketplaces like #CoveredCalifornia could be affected. Learn more @KidsPartnership new video
  • Although there may be changes in the future your #health your wellbeing and that of your children is important. For now, you should continue in programs you need to take care of your family. Learn more in @KidsPartnership video
  • Some of the country’s biggest advocacy organizations are taking action to oppose this proposal. Speak Up this is wrong for families and this is wrong for America! Share your story! Learn more in @KidsPartnership new #PublicCharge video
  • Let’s not punish Immigrant families for taking care of their children. Visit and make your voice heard. Let’s #RaiseUpAsOne for our family, for your family, for all families. Learn more in @KidsPartnership new #PublicCharge video

More From Our Partners Fighting Public Charge