National WIC Association

Public Charge and Immigration Resources

BREAKING: On October 11, 2019, federal courts issued a preliminary injunction that delayed implementation of the final rule on public charge for the duration of the legal challenges.


On August 12, 2019, the Administration officially issued a final rule on public charge. Public charge evaluates whether an immigrant will depend on the government for support, and the test is applied when an immigrant applies for an adjustment of legal status (i.e., visa, green card, or legal permanent residency). For decades, this test considered only whether an immigrant would require cash benefits (TANF or SSI) or long-term institutionalization under Medicaid. The Administration’s recent changes significantly expand the public charge test by including some of the largest federal programs in the country, namely Medicaid, SNAP, and housing subsidies. WIC is not included in the final public charge rule.

FAQs for participants and clinic staff

Escalation of ICE Presence

There has been an escalation of enforcement activity by the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) division of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). NWA has received multiple reports of ICE presence outside WIC clinics, exacerbating an already significant chilling effect on families and discouraging participants from entering clinics.

Immigration Attorney Resources

Participants may have questions about immigration policy that go beyond the scope of WIC. Clinic staff may wish to encourage participants to reach out to an immigration lawyer. You can find a lawyer in your area at:

Research and Studies

Congress and the Administration have been contemplating changes to immigration policy, some of which could directly impact WIC participants. As clinics face a number of new questions from participants, NWA has assembled the resources below to assist WIC staff. Please feel free to reach out to NWA with any questions or concerns.

Please keep NWA informed!

NWA can be more effective in supporting clinics if we understand the concerns that participants are voicing each day. Whenever your clinic faces a concern around immigration policy, please fill out this survey to document the incident and inform NWA’s broader advocacy efforts.