September 25 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA — In response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s release of a proposed rule to expand the scope of programs that can trigger a public charge determination, The California Endowment’s President and CEO, Dr. Robert K. Ross, issued the statement below.

Background: Public charge determinations are used by federal immigration authorities to decide whether to accept an immigrant’s application for Lawful Permanent Residence. It is also used for decisions about approving applications for certain visas to enter the United States. Current rules already consider the acceptance of cash assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income as triggers for public charge considerations. The draft rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security would significantly expand the number of benefits considered.

“The proposed rule would threaten the health of more than a million Californians by penalizing them if they access basic nutrition and housing benefits for themselves and their families.

“This draft rule will also have far-reaching, and potentially lasting impacts on the health of families and children beyond those directly targeted by the proposed rule because, regardless of immigration status, fear and confusion will lead many families to withdraw from benefits to which they have a legal right.

“The millions of people who could be affected by this rule are our neighbors, co-workers and friends. They are the lifeblood of California’s economy today and even more so into our future. Multiple studies demonstrate that immigrants bring billions of dollars in economic benefits to our state. The health and well-being of these families are central to the vitality of California, so there is an economic as well as a health and moral imperative to protecting them.

“We will work with partners across the state to educate Californians about actions they can take to protect their own health and their families and encourage Californians to make their voices heard in opposition to the proposed rule.”

The California Endowment’s mission is to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

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