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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

GW: Court Filing Finds “Public Charge” Rule Presents Threat to Public Health

The Trump administration’s “public charge” rule represents a major threat to health, according to a “friend of the court” brief filed Sept. 10. The brief is signed by faculty at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), American Public Health Association, American Academy of Nursing, and faculty from 26 additional schools of public health, public policy, nursing and medicine.

The brief has been presented to courts in legal challenges to the rule. The deans and scholars are urging the courts to block the rule from taking effect. The rule, finalized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in August, allows immigration officials to designate immigrants as a “public charge” if they utilize “public benefits,” including forms of Medicaid, certain types of federal housing assistance or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Being designated as a public charge can disqualify immigrants from becoming permanent legal residents. The brief argues that the rule threatens the health of immigrants, their families and entire communities. Half the U.S. population lives in communities where at least one in 10 residents is an immigrant.

“In the name of ‘self–sufficiency,’ this rule threatens dire consequences for millions of hard-working immigrants and their families and the nation’s public health,” said Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, Michael and Lori Milken Dean of Milken Institute SPH and one of the amici who signed the brief. “If allowed to stand, this rule will cause immigrants to forgo services for which they are eligible and to avoid seeking necessary health care, especially preventive care. This rule will result in a spike of preventable illness and death.”

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