Public Charge Threatens the Health and Well-Being of Families Across the Country

A Statement from Judith Meltzer, President of the Center for the Study of Social Policy

WASHINGTON, DC (March 16, 2020)—Today, the Trump administration begins implementing its anti-immigrant “public charge” rule, threatening the health and well-being of families across the country, and around the world. The rule violates our nation’s most basic commitments to equality and opportunity, imposing a wealth test on families applying for lawful permanent residency. Further, it is explicitly designed to exclude families of color, people with disabilities, and families with low and moderate incomes. This is only the latest attack on immigrant children and families by an administration intent on excluding immigrants and furthering an agenda that harms families of color and buttresses white supremacy.

The new rule will directly affect some people seeking visas for admission to the U.S. and people already in the U.S. who apply for permanent residence, or a green card. Under the rule, those families need to pass a new public charge test, showing that they are not likely at some point in the future to use one of a set of public benefits, including food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other critical supports. But the rule will indirectly impact many more families, as they withdraw from benefits they need to make ends meet out of fear and confusion.

As a result of this administration’s actions, immigrant families are living in fear, and many are already avoiding applying for health insurance, food assistance, and other supports to which they are entitled and which are critical for their economic security and well-being. The share of children who do not have health insurance increased in 2018 for the first time in a decade, with experts blaming the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, including the public charge rule. Clinics and child nutrition centers all over the country are reporting families going without food and health care.

“This rule will cause harm to children and their families both now, and for generations to come,” said CSSP Executive Vice President over Public Policy, Megan Martin. “Furthermore, it projects a very narrow definition of who belongs in the United States, one that goes against long-held American values.”

CSSP stands against these attacks on immigrant families, and will work with our partners to fight fear with facts and to advance an inclusive and equitable immigration agenda that protects and promotes the well-being of immigrant families today, and into the future.

About CSSP. The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) works to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children, youth, and families thrive. We translate ideas into action, promote public policies grounded in equity, and support strong and inclusive communities. We advocate with and for all children, youth, and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices. Learn more at