Changing Public Charge Immigration Rules: The Potential Impact on Children Who Need Care

Topic Areas: Advocacy and policy; Children, youth, and families; Social determinants and immigrant health
Service: Applied Research

ICH designed and led this research, which was supported by the California Health Care Foundation. In October, 2018, the Trump administration published a proposed rule change that would increase the chance of an immigrant being deemed a “public charge” and thereby denied legal permanent residency or entry to the US. The proposed changes (which have not been implemented) are expected to cause many immigrant parents to disenroll their families from safety-net programs, in large part due to fear and confusion over the rule even among families to whom the rule does not technically apply (known as “chilling effects”). Using nationally representative data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, ICH tabulated the number of children in need of care (such as newborns, children with medical conditions, including life-threatening illnesses) that are at risk of losing insurance due to chilling effects from the rule. ICH prepared two reports, one focused on the national level, and the other on California. The California Health Care Foundation, ICH, and others have used this research for education and advocacy purposes. For example, the research was cited in public comments to the Department of Homeland Security in opposition to the rule and in other research highlighting the detrimental impact of this proposed rule.