DHS Proposes Rule on Immigrant Access to Assisted Housing
According to a preliminary notice issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Trump administration is considering ways to strengthen the enforcement of rules that require immigrants to demonstrate that they won’t take advantage of public assistance programs after entering the United States.
Inadmissibility based on the “public charge” ground is determined by looking at the mandatory factors set forth in Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and making a determination of the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future. The proposed regulation defines a “public charge” to be a person who receives certain public benefits above certain defined threshold amounts or for longer than certain periods of time. Importantly, by law, the public charge inadmissibility determination is a prospective determination based on the totality of the circumstances, which includes statutorily required factors such as age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills.
In making this determination, DHS is proposing to consider current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds as a heavily weighed negative factor. The rule would also make nonimmigrants who receive or are likely to receive designated public benefits above the designated threshold generally ineligible for a change of status and an extension of stay.
Currently, three programs are covered under the public charge policy, TANF, SSI, and emergency Medicaid. A DHS press release indicates that the proposed rule would add to the definition of public charge: non-emergency Medicaid, the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), institutionalization for long-term care at government expense, and the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing programs.