Public Charge

September 3, 2019

On August 12, the Trump administration finalized a rule that substantially expanded the factors used to assess the risk of would-be lawful immigrants becoming a public charge. Individual consular officers or immigration officials will now decide, without review, the fate of persons seeking legal immigration based on such factors as English proficiency or education levels or the receipt of public assistance. The 800-plus page rule applies equally to those already residing in the United States and those seeking to enter for the first time.

The University of California, Davis has deep concerns that this rule will lead to arbitrary denials of applications for legal status, including from persons seeking to stay with family in the United States. The rule has very little to do with immigrants becoming a public charge. For decades, even lawful immigrants have been legally barred from most public benefits for at least five years after gaining their status. Instead, the real effect of the rule will be to keep too many from joining our community as lawful permanent residents based on unnecessary and misleading predictions that certain immigrants are likely to seek public benefits in the future.  

UC Davis also joins University of California President Janet Napolitano in her concern that this rule "penalizes and chills much-needed access to vital benefits for which lawful immigrants or mixed-status families are eligible." For very strong public health and human rights reasons, the state of California has made available certain vital health and other types of assistance to otherwise ineligible immigrants that now will likely go unused out of fear of the immigration consequences. Furthermore, the rule’s complexity will inevitably confuse and scare immigrants away from seeking even the few vital public benefits for which they are eligible, or even from seeking public benefits on behalf of their U.S. citizen children. The ripple effects will be to exacerbate public health concerns or cause detrimental economic harms affecting all Californians.

The public charge rule is antithetical to the values that UC Davis holds as an inclusive institution of learning, research and public service.  We cherish the diversity in our community and recognize that each of us, inclusive of immigration and economic status, contributes powerfully to the well-being and vibrancy of our society.  We express our ongoing commitment to creating a safe environment that affirms the dignity and rights inherent in all people, that confronts and rejects all manifestations of discrimination, and that fosters dialogue and healing.

Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, A Rule by the Homeland Security Department on 08/14/2019

Public Charge Fact Sheet, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

UC statement on final rule regarding "public charge"