Could Adversely Impact Immigrants Living in the US Legally and Have a Deep Economic Impact on Local and State Governments

PHILADELPHIA – Today, the City responded to Trump administration’s proposed expansion of the public charge rule NPRM (RIN 1615-AA22).

Under current policy, certain non–U.S. citizens who are seeking to enter the U.S. or to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status must show that, based on all their circumstances, they are not likely in the future to rely on the government for subsistence.  An individual seeking admission to the United States or seeking to adjust status to legal permanent resident (ie. obtaining a green card) is inadmissible if the individual at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge.

Also under the current policy, cash assistance provided via state and federal SSI and TANF render noncitizens inadmissible as a public charge.  Benefits that are currently not subject to public charge consideration include, but are not limited to, Child care, Head Start, Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, WIC, LIHEAP, emergency disaster relief, and others.  The Trump Administration has not made public its expansion plans into these programs, which disproportionately impact the lives and welfare of children.  However, the City has reason to believe this proposed expansion will penalize immigrants for enrolling their citizen children in these important programs.

As the policy currently stands, it has advanced the public interest in ensuring that everyone can receive essential services, such as health and nutrition benefits, without being considered a public charge on that basis. The proposed changes may cause immigrant families to forego needed health care or go hungry in an effort to keep their families together.

Mayor Kenney today formally requested a meeting with the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before this rule change is published to discuss the economic significance of these changes to our City.  OMB is legally required to accept these meetings.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Theroux,

I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss the public charge NPRM (RIN 1615-AA22) currently under your review.

We have concerns about the deep economic impact that this proposed rule would have on local and state governments, as well as the economy as a whole. The agency has deemed this NPRM as one that is not economically significant. However, we know firsthand that policy changes related to who is considered a public charge will have a direct impact on the state and local agencies that administer many of the programs that would now be taken into account in a public charge determination. If additional programs were to be included as factors in a public charge determination, we expect that many people—including eligible U.S. citizen children—who are legally eligible to participate in these programs would unenroll or refrain from applying. These changes would increase hunger and uncompensated care and impact our schools, child welfare agencies, public health systems, and hospitals.

Your timely response is greatly appreciated. It is our hope to speak with you or your appropriate colleagues prior to the publication of this rule.

Thank you for your consideration of this meeting request.


James F. Kenney, Mayor
City of Philadelphia