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Public Charge

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Yet again immigrants are under attack as a result of a new policy being considered that would impact access to public programs for people seeking legal residency and could result in denying people the ability to enter the United States or even change people’s immigration status. This is all the result of politically motivated attacks and a harmful and broken immigration system.

COLOR is part of a coalition working to address this issue along with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), Center for Health Progress, Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA), Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI), and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), as part of the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition (PIF). Learn more, stay informed and take action with us on the “public charge”.

What is the “Public Charge”?

Many people in our communities are already familiar with the “public charge”, a determination test used by United States immigration officials. The idea is trying to assess if someone will use and to what extent they might need to utilize support from the government through a public program.


The public charge test comes into play when a person applies to enter the United States, to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident, or to switch from one non-immigrant status to another. The test is typically used by those seeking a family-based visa. It is not considered when seeking citizenship status.

This is a test that is supposed to determine if someone will need financial support. They look at things like cash assistance (SSI and TANF) or institutionalized long-term care. If an individual is determined to be a “public charge”, they can be denied status and entry into the US. They can even be deported in rare cases.

What will the rule change do?

A draft unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security shows that this administration wants to expand the definition and the considerations in the test to include non-cash public benefits. That means that if someone wants to access a public health program or another type of support for themselves they could be denied entry or deported.

This administrations is determined to destroy the health and economic stability of immigrant families.


We have already seen an increase in the number of immigrant families unenrolling from social programs and cancelling medical appointments. This is the result of the culture of fear that this administration seeks to instill in immigrant communities. It will only get worse if the proposed changes go through. This will have a direct and lasting impact on health and economic outcomes for families.

They are counting on people not understanding what this change means. They are trying to sneak through a change that would cause dramatic and devastating impacts. We can’t let them do that

What’s next?

The rule change is not retroactive and there are no current benefits to unenrolling from social programs.

Every family is different, and may need to weigh their factors differently. COLOR will keep you updated as more information is available.

The good news is that this proposed rule change will need a 60-day public comment period, and the government is required to read each comment. Following the public comment period, it could take months to be finalized and implemented. As we learn more about this proposed rule change we will reach out to you with updated information and a sample script for public comment.

Get ready to fight and speak out for our communities!


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