Public Charge

The current Administration has proposed new changes a rule called “public charge” that would punish immigrants who receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), even though they are eligible for it, by jeopardizing their ability to stay in the United States.

What is the Public Charge Rule?

Public Charge is a term used to describe someone who will be primarily dependent on the government.

A public charge assessment is made when a person:

  • Applies to enter the U.S.
  • Applies to adjust status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
  • A green card holder leaves the U.S. for more than 180 consecutive days (6 months) and reenters

The public charge rule is based on more than just benefits; the “totality of circumstances,” which can include age, health, family status, financial status, education, and skills, could all be used to determine whether an individual has been or is likely to become a public charge.

The test attempts to answer the question: Is the person likely to rely on cash or long-term care in the future? If a person is deemed likely to become a public charge, he or she will be denied a visa, admission to the United States, or legal permanent residency.

Our Position

Houston Food Bank strongly opposes the proposed public charge rule that would make it difficult for immigrant families and children to access life-sustaining health and human service programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps. We oppose punishing immigrant individuals and families who are in the process of becoming citizens for trying to access food. We call on our community members to take action and submit a comment to the Federal Register before the proposed changes become policy. Read more of Houston Food Bank’s opposition to the proposed public charge rule.

Take Action

Proposed Changes to Public Charge are NOT in Effect Today

The changes are still just a proposal. The government is accepting comments from the public on the proposal until December 10, 2018. The rule cannot be final until after the comment period ends and the government reviews and responds to all the comments. Then, if a final rule is published, there will be another waiting period before the rule is implemented.

There is still time to oppose the rule so that it is delayed or withdrawn.

Submit your comment today by clicking here!

Please note that this info will be shared with and your personal information related to the public comment will be available to view on the docket.

Tips to make your comments as effective as possible:

  • Please remember to add a personal comment. The Administration by law must review and respond to all unique comments!
  • Share your own experience and viewpoint:
    • If you’ve utilized public benefits, speak about role that access to benefits has played in your life
    • If you have family members that were immigrants, describe their experience and contributions to your community
    • Explain why this change will increase hunger and poverty in your community
    • Talk about why the proposed rule concerns you as a food bank volunteer/staff, client, board member, concerned community member etc.

If you do not want to include any personal information, a friend or representative can submit a comment for you. Organize your networks, your neighbors, and your family to weigh in and do the same. Now is the time to make our voices heard!

For questions regarding Public Charge, please contact:

Melanie Pang
Government Relations Officer