The Center for Migration Studies Comment on Proposed Public Charge Rule Shows How It Would Harm Hard-Working Families

The rule should be withdrawn to limit harm to 2.25 million persons

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The Center for Migration Studies Comment on Proposed Public Charge Rule Shows How It Would Harm Hard-Working Families

Update 8/13/19: The final rule will be officially released August 14 and go into effect 60 days later. The rule has changed very little since it was proposed, even though the vast majority of its over 200,000 public comments — like the one from CMS here — opposed the rule.   

New York, NY – In a comment submitted to the federal government on the proposed rule regarding public charge determinations, the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) argued that the rule was overly broad and would significantly harm working-class persons and their families, who are contributing to the US economy and living at a level of self-sufficiency.

CMS focused its comments around its recent report entitled “Proposed Public Charge Rule Would Significantly Reduce Legal Admissions and Adjustment to Lawful Permanent Resident Status of Working Class Persons.” This report estimates that 2.25 million persons live with a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) family member who could petition for them. Among others, this population would be directly impacted by the rule. The report further concluded that 5.32 million household members of the 2.25 million would be indirectly impacted by the rule.

The comment noted the radical expansion of the public charge standard under the rule, stating that the rule would change the meaning of public charge  from dependency on the government to lack of self-sufficiency. Immigrants often temporarily access public benefits, such as health-care and food and nutrition assistance, as a bridge to socio-economic advancement and integration.

CMS urged that the rule be withdrawn. Absent withdrawal, it stated that it should be significantly amended in two ways. First, the use of non-cash benefits should be eliminated as a negative factor in public charge determinations because this provision would deny basic support to working class families. Second, indicators of self-sufficiency and integration – including employment, family relationships to US citizens and LPRs, a high school education or beyond, English language proficiency, and income at 125 percent or greater of the federal poverty line – should be “heavily” weighed as positive factors for admission and adjustment to LPR status.

These fixes, however, will not “undo all the damage that would be caused by this overly broad, unnecessary, and counterproductive rule.” Donald Kerwin, CMS’s Executive Director, said that “the rule would substantially decrease legal migration to the United States, denying status and admission to countless people who are not and will never become a public charge, in any fair sense of that term. It would be a barrier to immigrant self-sufficiency, not a fair measure of it.”

For a copy of the comment, please visit  

December 10, 2018