NYLPI Calls on the Biden Administration to Treat Immigrants Fairly in Public Charge Determinations

April 27, 2022

Disability Justice, Health Justice, Health in Immigration Detention, Immigrant Justice, News

NYLPI submitted written comments to the federal government to support the rights of our clients and other seriously ill, undocumented immigrants and people with disabilities, who can be gravely impacted by the government’s use of the “Public Charge Rule.”
On February 24, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requested comments on proposed changes to the public charge rule, which is utilized by the U.S. government to deny a person’s entry to the United States or to deny people certain types of immigration status, if the government thinks they would be primarily reliant on government assistance. NYLPI believes that the public charge rule should not exist in the first place. However, if the government does continue to implement the rule in some form, it must first be reformed to consider its capacity for discriminatory harm as well as its “chilling effect,” where individuals who are in fact eligible for benefits do not seek them because of this rule and its potential impact on immigration-related matters.
NYLPI provides direct legal representation and healthcare advocacy to connect seriously ill immigrant New Yorkers to healthcare, and our Disability Justice program advocates for equality of opportunity, self-determination, and independence for people with disabilities. Informed by our client’s experiences, NYLPI’s comment critiques the proposed rule’s ambiguity and continued use of specific factors including a person’s health, education, financial status, use of cash assistance and long-term institutionalized care in the public charge determination. These factors will continue to unfairly privilege healthy, able-bodied, and neurotypical persons over persons with chronic health conditions and/or disabilities, and do not take into account the impact of institutionalized racism on individuals’ lives.
NYLPI has proposed that DHS remedy these issues by providing clear and concise language throughout the rule itself, not in later guidance; eliminating the consideration of problematic factors; and removing state and local public benefits programs from consideration under the rule.
By creating a version of the public charge rule that better aligns with the needs of immigrant communities, DHS could change lives, allowing many people, including NYLPI’s clients, to feel comfortable accessing the benefits they need – including healthcare, which the COVID pandemic has further demonstrated to be a necessity. NYLPI asks the Biden administration to see the impact that the public charge rule has on the lives of our clients and so many others, deterring them from accessing necessary and life-saving care, and to adapt the rule to remedy that.

Read NYLPI’s full comment on our website.

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