Proposed Changes to Immigration Rules Would Cost California Jobs, Harm Public Health

Ninez Ponce, Laurel Luciaand Tia Shimada

Press Coverage

A Publication of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

Authors of the fact sheet report changes to “public charge” rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security could lead to losses of up to $1.67 billion in federal benefits for California and even greater economic losses across the state.

When a person applies for lawful permanent residency (a “green card”) or for a visa to enter the country, U.S. immigration officials conduct a public charge test to determine if that person may become primarily dependent on the government to meet their basic needs. Currently, only two public benefits – cash assistance and long-term institutional care – are considered for the public charge test. Under the proposed changes to federal immigration rules, people could be denied status as lawful permanent residents if they’ve received certain health care, housing or nutrition assistance benefits. In addition, the proposed rule adds harsher standards for personal circumstances that make someone less likely to receive a green card or be granted entry to the U.S., such as having limited English proficiency, limited educational attainment, low income, being a child or being a senior.