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A Threat to Health and Wellbeing: Public Charge’s Expected Impact and How Philanthropy Can Respond

September 26, 2019 @ 10:00 am 11:15 am PDT

Presented by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

Randy Capps, director of research, U.S. Program, Migration Policy Institute
Guadalupe Fernandez, policy and advocacy manager, Tahirih Justice Center
Sonya Schwartz, senior policy attorney, National Immigration Law Center
Carolyn Wang Kong, chief program director, Blue Shield of California Foundation
Kevin Douglas, director of national programs, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)

In August, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed and officially published its “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” final rule. Unless blocked by litigation, the rule will go into effect on October 15th. The new rule will dramatically impact the health and stability of immigrants of all statuses who may withdraw from or avoid nutrition, health care, and housing assistance programs out of fear, and radically reshape how the country admits future immigrants. In many ways, the public charge rule embodies all three elements of the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda and strategies:

1. To dehumanize and demonize immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through deceitful and destructive narratives,
2. To force immigrants already here to leave through unilateral policy directives that fuel widespread fear and increase enforcement, detention, and deportation, and
3. To prevent would-be asylees, refugees, and immigrants from entering the country through extreme policies.

Specifically, the rewritten public charge rule would require USCIS to administer an expanded “totality of circumstances” test when an individual applies for a green card that will heavily weigh the anticipated likelihood that an individual would utilize public benefits like SNAP, Section 8, and Medicaid. The test would also negatively assess certain health conditions and lack of health coverage, and other factors, including age.

At its core, the public charge rule is the manifestation of a growing and toxic narrative that seeks to exclude immigrants—particularly those of color and/or limited means—from membership in our society. The anticipated chilling effect will negatively impact health outcomes, the wellbeing of children, family and community stability, economic opportunity, and even our representative government’s checks and balances function.

On this webinar, funders will learn about responses to date to the final ‘public charge’ rule, ranging from local-level community education to state-level coordinated campaigns, to national litigation efforts. Gaps in field capacity and opportunities for philanthropic support to protect families and advance belonging will be explored in both a rapid response and long-term context. Speakers will also cover the second rule that is expected soon that will dramatically expand the “public charge” grounds under which the Department of Justice determines who should be deported.

Areas of Impact:

Immigration  |   Nutrition  |   Policy Advocacy

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