1. Press Release
  2. Economic Justice, Immigrants & Refugees

FCNL Rejects New Government Rule to Slow Down Legal Immigration

August 13, 2019

Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) expressed strong opposition against a rule released today by the Trump administration to penalize legal immigrants from securing a green card if they receive housing or food subsidies from the government.

Barring any litigation, the new policy takes effect Oct. 15. The policy, called a public charge rule, will slow down legal immigration and reduce the number of immigrants granted permanent legal status or green cards.

Contact: Kristen Y. Archer, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-812-2223

“This is a racist rule that favors wealthy immigrants, not the immigrants who built this country – the ‘tired…poor…huddled masses’ openly welcomed by our Statue of Liberty,” said Diane Randall, FCNL executive secretary. “As Quakers, we firmly believe in immigration policies that allow people to migrate regardless of their wealth and skill levels. The new public charge rule goes against our belief.”

The rule expands the definition of what it means to be a public charge, or someone the government deems a potential financial burden on society. It prioritizes affluence over hard work. It presents a challenge in keeping immigrant families together. Lastly, it puts many poor immigrants at increased risk of homelessness, illness, and malnutrition.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that roughly 382,000 green card applicants annually would be subject to the new public charge rule. In addition, some 517,500 applicants for other visa types could be subjected to this rule at the discretion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Families with children are particularly vulnerable to the expanded definition. They would be labeled as a public charge if they legally use programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, housing assistance, and Medicare Part D. Immigrants applying for these benefits would have to earn at least 125 percent of the current federal poverty level.

“The new public charge rule goes against every faith teaching to welcome strangers, to shelter homeless people, and to feed those who are hungry,” said Randall. “We reject this sweeping definition of a public charge. All members of our community – regardless of their immigration status – should have access to the support they need to survive.”

More than 260,000 public comments were submitted to the government and were overwhelmingly against the new rule. Despite this public opposition, the Trump administration went ahead and approved the new rule.