Public-Charge Rule Uses Fear to Harm Immigrant Families and Increases Their Risk of Homelessness



Contact: Crystal Letona

Communications Associate

202-638-2535, Ext. 109 –

(August 13, 2019, Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Trump administration released the final version of the “public charge” rule which will prevent legal immigrants and their families from pursuing permanent residency if they or someone in their household legally uses federal public assistance programs including Medicaid, nutrition-related resources, or subsidized housing.

The first proposed version of the rule was announced in September of last year and received over 200,000 public comments online, including one from the Law Center.

Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the Law Center, stated, “Let us be clear: human rights and human needs do not disappear based on immigration status. Everyone needs a safe, secure place to live, nutritious food, and access to adequate health care. Keeping poor families out of housing and denying them food will only force them into deeper poverty and potential homelessness. This hurts them, their children and our communities.”

According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute, “Numerous studies, by MPI and others, have found the rule would result in disenrollment from public benefits programs by many immigrants, including those not directly affected by the rule, as well as U.S.-born dependents. Already, there are anecdotal reports by service providers of people disenrolling from public benefit programs amid fear or confusion about the rule.”

The public charge rule, which would go into effect in October, will have a chilling effect on immigrant families’ participation in federal services. It is likely to discourage low-income immigrant families from applying for or receiving government benefits such as housing assistance—that they are entitled to—out of fear it could jeopardize their immigration status.

“We all share the concern that millions of U.S. households struggle to find affordable housing in the ongoing nationwide housing crisis, but blaming struggling immigrant families will not fix this problem,” said Eric Tars, Legal Director for the Law Center. “The real issue is the lack of sufficient funding to ensure that every family, regardless of immigration status, has access to one of the most basic of human rights—a safe place to call home.”


The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email