The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Public Charge Update following Supt Ct Ruling; National Conf Call this afternoon (Tues 1/28) at 3 PM - please register

Please see email below from the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) campaign and next steps. USCIS has not announced when the rule will go into effect -  but it is critical to track the harm of this rule as the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits. There is a national call today at 3 PM (you must register for this) and below are talking points.   MLRI will update materials on our website as we learn more.  This issue will also be briefly discussed at this AM's SNAP Coalition meeting in Boston. 
Remember, many immigrants are not affected, and many programs are not affected either.  The legal battles are NOT over - there is more you can do! See below. 

Dear Allies,

This afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the preliminary injunction from New York that prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule from taking effect nationwide. This was the last of the three district court nationwide injunctions standing, which means that the DHS rule can go into effect nationwide, except in Illinois where it is blocked by a statewide injunction. 


This means that the public charge rule will be allowed to go into effect while the litigation continues.  The changes contained in DHS’s final rule can now be implemented by USCIS officers - and we may see immediate decisions on individual adjustment cases. The Department of Homeland Security has not yet announced a timeline for implementation. For PIF partners working with affected immigrant families, we want to hear from you! It is essential that we document the real harm of this rule, and we are tracking examples through this google form

Keep reading below for talking points and opportunities this week to learn more.


What's Next?

  • The fight against the Public Charge rule continues. While the rule is permitted to take effect, the appeals concerning the reasoning in those injunctions are ongoing.  Although the “stay” decision is certainly a setback, the justices did not address the merits of the legal claims that were adopted unanimously by five district courts.  The appellate cases are moving on expedited schedules and could be decided within a couple of months.  Positive appellate court results could expand the injunction beyond Illinois.  Likewise, the district court cases will continue towards final resolution of the rule’s legality. 
  • We know that many of you may have questions. Please join us for a short all-campaign call TOMORROW (1/28) at 3pm ET/ 12pm PT. NILC’s litigation team will provide an overview of what this decision means and the anticipated timeline for public charge litigation efforts moving forward.
Click Here to Register for Tomorrow’s Call
  • Need a refresher on what’s in the final rule? Click here to see our summary when the DHS final rule was published in August of 2019. You can also join our Public Charge 101 call on Thursday Jan 30 at 3pm ET, 12pm PT.

Topline Talking Points:

Below are talking points to help as you field questions from concerned community members. A shorter version is also available and may be better suited to media outreach. You can also share this statement from the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign and this tweet thread from NILC. In the next few days, we will have updated community education materials available on our website at
  • Many immigrants will not be affected.  DHS’s regulation does not affect all immigrants. Refugees, asylees, survivors of trafficking, domestic violence and other serious crimes, and other “humanitarian” immigrants are not affected. Lawful permanent residents (or “green card holders”) are not affected unless they leave the US for over 180 days and seek to reenter.
  • Use of public benefits will not automatically make you a public charge. Immigration officials must look at all your circumstances in determining whether you are likely to become a public charge in the future. This includes your age, health, income, assets, resources, education/skills, family you must support, and family who will support you. Positive factors, like having a job or health insurance, can be weighed against negative factors, like having used certain benefits or having a health condition. Either way, you will have a chance to show why you are not likely to rely on certain benefits in the future. Additionally, most immigrants who are subject to public charge are not eligible for the programs listed in the rule. 

  • Many programs are not included in the public charge test. Life-saving food and nutrition programs like WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, shelters, child care assistance and many more are not included in the public charge test.  Health care programs used by children and pregnant women are also not included. Health, housing, nutrition and other non-cash benefits provided by state and local governments are also not included.

  • Benefits used by family members will not count in public charge decisions made in the U.S.  U.S. citizen family members are entitled to use the nutrition, food, or housing programs that help them thrive. Benefits your children receive will not count against you if your green card application is processed in the U.S. Benefits that you get for your children or other family members are different from benefits that you may receive yourself. Including your name on your child’s application does NOT mean that you have applied for benefits for yourself.

  • The public is on our side. Many Americans disagree with Trump’s hateful public charge rule, and they are speaking up. A record-breaking 266,000 comments were filed on this rule proposal, and several lawsuits have stopped it from taking effect. 

  • Empower ourselves. It’s up to us to protect our families and communities. Make sure to get the facts about public charge from

    • We can all make our voices heard by contacting local, state, and federal officials in charge of creating policies that affect us. 

    • Those of us who are eligible to vote should register and vote! 

    • If you need free or low-cost legal assistance, find a legal services organization near you at

  • Get the facts, Make a plan. Learn about what this new rule means by visiting, and work with your lawyer and family to determine how these changes might affect you or your family. Information is power! 


Thank you for your continued partnership! 

Connie Choi, National Immigration Law Center
Madison Allen, Center for Law and Social Policy
Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign


Limit Offer