Update: Public Charge

On August 14, the Administration released a final rule on Public Charge—an executive action that was proposed in October 2018 to make it more difficult for immigrants to access critical low-income assistance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Section 8 housing vouchers.

Under this new rule, which will go into effect on October 15, immigrants who receive benefits from these programs could be denied permanent residency. As a result many immigrant families may be forced to choose between a secure future in this country and their ability to access food, safe housing, and health care.

When the rule goes into effect, it would immediately impact 75,000 New York City residents who qualify for SNAP and have an immigration status that would be put at risk. It would potentially impact another 400,000 residents who could be eligible for permanent residency in the near future and be turned down because of the rule. In total, that is 475,000 New Yorkers who would either lose their SNAP benefits or their ability to live in our country. Since the rule was proposed last year, 25,000 immigrants in New York City have already disenrolled from SNAP, for fear of being targeted.

City Harvest opposed this rule when it was first issued, and we continue to oppose it. We believe that no one should have to choose between putting food on the table and living in our city and country. As the Administration continues to enact harmful policies that threaten critical support systems, including SNAP, which millions of people in the country rely on, we will continue to advocate for the people we serve. We work on the frontlines to feed New York City, and we have a responsibility to help all of our neighbors in need, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

At this time, it is important to know:

  • The “public charge” test only applies to certain immigrants. Learn more about who may be affected at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
  • This rule change does not impact eligibility requirements for public benefits programs. If you are currently enrolled in these programs, you should continue to access your benefits. If you are eligible and would like to apply for benefits, you should do so. Apply at New York City’s ACCESS HRA.
  • This rule will go into effect on October 15, 2019, but it may be delayed due to litigation by State Attorneys General.
  • There is no “public charge” test when applying for citizenship. This proposed rule would not change that.

Find more information and resources at Protecting Immigrant Families.

We’ll continue to watch this issue, working closely with Feeding America, the City of New York, and our partners across the city and country, and we will keep you updated as we learn more.