What is the new “public charge” rule and how does it impact survivors?
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a rule that would expand the current public charge policies used to determine whether an individual can obtain legal permanent residence in the United States. The new rule will make it difficult for certain immigrants to obtain a Green Card if they have used a range of public benefits. Those who are deemed to be a “public charge” will be prohibited from becoming a permanent resident.
Although the public charge test will not be applied to immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, we are concerned about the impact that the proposed rule will have on survivors. Without proper assistance to inform them of their exclusion from the test, survivors will most likely assume that accessing benefits for themselves and/or their children will jeopardize their application for legal status.
This is a serious concern because many survivors and their children are dependent on their abusive partner for food, healthcare, and housing. In addition, people who cause harm often misinform and isolate survivors, making them unaware of legal support and protections available to them. As a result, survivors will not seek relief services for fear of triggering the public charge bar. This sets them up for a difficult choice – either forego basic need services and continue to stay in the abusive situation or face deportation.
At WTLC, we will do our best to educate and provide accurate information about what the new rule means and who is impacted. We will do our best to guide survivors and their children to adequate resources and access to services so that they can maintain their overall wellness and safety.