National WIC Association

Immigration Resources

NWA UPDATE ON PUBLIC CHARGE

October 19, 2018

 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally proposed its rules change to public charge in the Federal Register on October 10. The comment period is now open until December 10, 2018. Current policy remains legally effective throughout the comment period. DHS must review all comments and publish a final rule in order for there to be a change to immigration law or policy.

This 60-day comment period is the most important time for WIC staff to engage on this issue. DHS specifically requests feedback on the question of whether to include ANY public benefit program in a public-charge determination. NWA members are urged to forcefully reject this proposal and demand the explicit exclusion of WIC from any rule. Further, members are urged to share with DHS the public health reasons that including programs like Medicaid and SNAP in a public-charge determination is the wrong action to take. NWA is here to help you do this!

Individuals and agencies may offer their comments here. To assist you in forming a comment, NWA has created template comments. In addition, NWA has drafted guidelines for concerned participants who may wish to comment in an individual capacity. Please note that DHS will accept comments only in English or with an accompanying English translation.

Remember: Regulatory commenting is not lobbying. Please contact Brian Dittmeier at bdittmeier@nwica.org with questions about how to participate in the comment process.

We also wish to share new Spanish and Chinese translations of our updated Frequently Asked Questions document for WIC families.

See the September 24 blog post for earlier updates related to those above and for more analysis of the proposal.

PUBLIC CHARGE RESOURCES

The Administration has proposed changes to regulations to expand the public charge test. 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 proposed changes would expand the test to include other benefit programs, potentially including WIC. Should this change go into effect, families would have to choose between their legal status or their family’s access to food.

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.