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Home > Issues & Taking Action > Protecting Immigrant Families

Protecting Immigrant Families

REFORMA Call To Action. We Need Your Voice.

Make Your Voice Heard.


The Department of Homeland Security opens Immigration Policy Changes for Public Comment

Policy changes to the current immigration system are being considered. The proposed changes will have a great impact on communities across the United States.

Understanding the proposed changes, their impact in our communities, and the resources available that can be shared is essential to providing useful services to immigrant populations. Barriers are increasing for immigrant families who may want to obtain their Green Cards, or who are eligible to naturalize.

The proposed changes outlined below ask for public comment. Please consider adding your voice and comments in support of immigrant families. Public participation is vital to our civic process.


Proposed Policy Changes

There are three proposed changes to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies posted to the Federal Register. If the policies are amended, immigrant families will be significantly affected.

If library patrons have questions, there are toolkits and articles where they may learn additional information (See Resources below).

Remember, refer patrons to immigration service providers in your community, Department of Justice (DOJ)-accredited representatives or immigration attorneys. The immigration landscape is fast-moving and complex, and it’s more important than ever to make sure people are getting accurate information.

Public comments about the proposed changes may be posted on Regulations.gov. All comments will be read by the Federal government and taken into consideration.

Please see the link below for the Regulations.gov site and comment guidelines. There are also links to examples of text to use for comments in support of immigrant families and additional resources. Comments should be personalized.

Your Voice in Federal Decision Making: Regulations.gov

Tips for Submitting Effective Comments, Regulations.Gov

There is a lot of misinformation and assumption regarding the proposed changes. It’s important to remember:

1. These changes have not been implemented, and

2. Immigrants should not respond by dropping out of public benefit programs.

Additionally, effective immediately, candidates who will take the "written" Naturalization test will now be required to use a tablet and stylus. Consider incorporating tablet workshops for patrons so they may become comfortable using the technology for the exam. USCIS-sponsored Citizenship classes will be required to include this digital literacy component.


Find Help

DOJ Recognized Orgs and Accredited Reps

AILA Immigration Lawyer Search

Immigration Law Help


Proposed Change 1: Flores Settlement Agreement

On September 7th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) opened up the public comment period for its proposal to rescind the Flores Agreement Settlement (FSA). Public comments are open for 60 days, meaning November 6, 2018 is the last day for comment.

FSA has been in use for decades and protects the basic rights of children in the custody of the federal government, including people seeking asylum. The FSA sets basic standards of care and prevents the United States from detaining children indefinitely in prison-like conditions.

Make a comment to the Federal Register/Regulations.gov via FWD.us using the following link: FWD.us: Comment Here to Preserve Flores and Support Unaccompanied Children


Proposed Change 2: Changes to Fee-Waiver, I-912

The proposed changes were posted to the Federal Register and are available for comment until November 27, 2018. The Fee-Waiver, often known as I-912, is important because it is used by many people who are ready to naturalize but simply do not have the financial means to pay the $725 fee. Often, multiple family members naturalize at the same time—making it cost prohibitive for even a family of four. Currently, if you are receiving food stamps, that would qualify you and your family for a fee waiver. With the proposed changes, that same person would now need to show that their income “is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)” in order to be eligible. The receipt of benefits as proof of “poverty” would be no longer accepted. This will make naturalization unreachable for many people who will then be faced with impossible choices, like choosing between their public benefits or applying for Citizenship.

Federal Register, Changes to Fee Waiver

Comment Here for Fee Waiver


Proposed Change 3: Public Charge

On September 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security posted the text of its proposed rule which re-defines public charge. On October 10, the proposed changes were posted to the Federal Register and are available for comment until December 10, 2018.

Under the current policy, the only benefi­ts which are taken into consideration in determining who is likely to become a “public charge” are:

  • Cash assistance, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and comparable state or local programs.
  • Government-funded long-term institutional care.

The proposed rule for public charge drastically expands the definition of what it means to be a public charge, which could prevent many immigrants from maintaining or obtaining legal immigration status—and because they are more fearful, many immigrants who receive public benefits may opt out of needed programs, even ones that aren't even in consideration to be added to a public charge list.

SNAP (food stamps) and Section 8 housing vouchers, among others, are proposed to be added to the list of benefits that would be considered public charge.

The agency’s proposed rule would significantly alter the way USCIS officers screen applicants for adjustment of status or for non-immigrants applying for an extension or change of status. (Adjustment of status refers to the process of obtaining a Green Card. A change of status refers to the process of changing from one type of visa to another--like a visitor visa to a student visa).

Make a comment about Public Charge on the Federal Register/Regulations.gov via Protecting Immigrant Families using the following link: Protecting Immigrant Families: Writing Points and Comment Here for Federal Register


Top Talking Points for Public Charge (NILC)

Please note the following list is for informational purposes. There is a printable copy below from NILC, the National Immigration Law Center.


  • The policy on public charge decisions made within the U.S. has not yet changed.

  • The proposed rule is still a draft. Once it is posted, the federal agency must accept and respond to comments on it. It will not be implemented until after it becomes final, which will take additional time.

  • Not all immigrants are subject to the public charge test.

  • The public charge test looks at all the person’s circumstances, weighing positive factors against any negative ones.

  • If the proposed rule becomes final, noncash benefits (other than long-term care) used before that time will not be considered. Using benefits now can help you or your family members become healthier, stronger, and more employable in the future.

  • Federal and state laws protect the privacy of people who apply for or receive health care coverage, nutrition, economic support, or other public benefits.

  • Get help deciding what’s best for your family and, if you can, consult with an immigration attorney or a DOJ–accredited representative about your own situation.

Resources

Make the Road NY: Printable info sheets

The Children's Partnership, Public Charge

Stop Family Detention

Protecting Immigrant Families

Public Charge, Scenarios and Examples

FAQ Public Charge, Moms Rising

FWD.us Public Charge

Forbes, Public Charge

NILC: How to Talk to Families About Public Charge

Public Charge Quick Analysis

Prepared by Madeleine Ildefonso, member of REFORMA's Legislative Committee.
October 25, 2018