We Stand Against Public Charge.

LOS ANGELES – In September 2018, the Trump Administration proposed changes to the federal “public charge” regulation, which if approved, will have devastating impacts on immigrant children and families across the country. Public charge refers to an individual who is likely to use government assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--formerly known as food stamps and known as CalFresh in California--as well as Medicaid/Medical, Section 8 Rental Assistance, and other safety net programs. Currently, individuals are considered a public charge if they use government assistance programs for a majority of their income. However, under the proposed changes, immigrants using any of these essential programs, even as a small supplement to their income, would be considered a public charge. Designation as a public charge negatively impacts someone’s ability to become a legal permanent resident.

"Redefining public charge will prevent immigrant families from using vital anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs, including CalFresh. This means that, in Los Angeles and across the country, more children and families will go hungry for fear of threats to their immigration status" said Clare Fox, Executive Director at the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC).

Nearly 30 percent of low-income individuals in Los Angeles County struggle with food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal will come from. Over one million Los Angeles County residents participate in the CalFresh program, only about 66 percent of the total number of eligible individuals. Under-enrollment in the CalFresh program leads to lost dollars in the local economy; Los Angeles County misses out on an estimated $2.1 billion in economic activity due to underutilization of the CalFresh program. Many anti-hunger leaders fear that under-enrollment will only be exacerbated by the public charge changes.

"Under-enrollment in the CalFresh Program is a huge loss for our anti-hunger efforts in Los Angeles County. While many factors are behind our under-enrollment numbers, public charge changes will likely only exacerbate the problem by deterring immigrant families from participating in CalFresh—even if they are eligible or have fully eligible U.S. born children—for fear of immigration consequences" said Gabby Tilley, Policy Advocate at California Food Policy Advocates.

In response to the proposed public charge changes, groups across the country are mobilizing to stop the Trump Administration from preventing immigrant families from accessing these crucial programs. The Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition is urging individuals to submit public comments opposing the proposed public charge changes. The period comment ends on December 10th, 2018 but individuals are urged to submit comments as soon as possible. Public comments can be submitted here and our partners at California Food Policy Advocates have developed template comments for your use.  

“It’s vital that we all respond immediately to these revised public charge proposals, which seem to have no point other than cruelty. These changes will lead many families—legally residing here—to forego necessities like food and health care for fear of hurting their immigration status. Let’s all provide public comment so that the administration knows the devastating impacts that these changes would create," said Frank Tamborello, Executive Director of Hunger Action LA and LAFPC Leadership Council Member.

Los Angeles is taking a strong stand against the proposed public charge changes. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, along with County of Los Angeles Supervisor Hilda Solis, recently made a statement denouncing the amended public charge rule, as it would devastate immigrant families and children. Please join our local leaders, anti-hunger advocates, and families across the country in standing up against the proposed public charge changes.

LA Food Policy Council