Mayor Announces Up To 475,000 Immigrant New Yorkers Could Be Harmed By Trump's "Public Charge" Proposal

October 11, 2018

Proposal could also result in at least $420 million in economic losses to the City every year

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced the results of a preliminary analysis showing that, if enacted, the Trump Administration’s “public charge” proposal could harm up to 475,000 immigrant New Yorkers.

“This proposal is another perversion of our most basic values,” said Mayor de Blasio. “It is un-American to punish families for seeking help, plain and simple. As a parent myself, I could never imagine the gut wrenching decision of choosing between food on the table and the possibility of not being able to get a green card in the future. On behalf of the ultimate city of immigrants, we will fight this tooth and nail.”

The analysis, jointly conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Department of Social Services, and the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, also found that hundreds of thousands additional New Yorkers could be harmed as well, including U.S. citizen children, as families might withdraw from or forgo enrolling in critical social safety net programs based on misinformation and fears of immigration consequences. In addition, the analysis shows that the overall economic consequences for New York City could be severe, with at least a $420 million hit to the city’s economy annually. The de Blasio Administration is firmly opposed to this “public charge” proposal, and will continue to share information with New Yorkers about its possible impacts.  

“We will fight back against any attempt to threaten the well-being of hundreds of thousands of middle and working class immigrant families, including their U.S. citizen children,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Immigrant New Yorkers are the backbone of our economy and the Trump Administration’s latest proposal would undercut our progress to make NYC the fairest big city in the country. We wholly oppose this proposal and we’ll continue to share the most up-to-date information on how it could impact our fellow New Yorkers.”

“This proposed rule from the Trump Administration is a direct attack on our City’s core values and the lifelines that millions of hard-working New Yorkers rely upon every day. We will not stand for it,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “We at DSS remain committed to connecting all New Yorkers in need to the benefits for which they are eligible, ensuring they can put food on the table and make ends meet, no matter where they’ve come from.”

“The Trump Administration’s misguided proposal would harm immigrants as well as the broader New York City community – the friends, family members and neighbors who benefit from the contributions that immigrants of all backgrounds and circumstances make to the economic, social and civic life of the city,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “New York City is a place that welcomes newcomers from all walks of life, and we are better for it. It is in all of our interests for residents to access the resources, support and opportunities that they need to fulfill their full potential and continue to drive New York City forward.”

“I have been practicing medicine in public health systems for more than 30 years. I’ve never met a doctor - Democrat or Republican — who cared about the immigration status of their patient. We’ve taken an oath to care for the sick and can’t imagine the devastating impact this mean-spirited proposal could have if our patients end up having to choose between getting proper medical treatment or pursue their legal status. I hope this radical attempt to undermine the health and well-being of middle and working class immigrant communities can be prevented. In the meantime, it’s incredibly important to note that this proposal is by no means final, and access to services like our public health facilities has not changed. NYC Health + Hospitals is open to all without exception, and we urge our immigrant community to continue to seek care without fear,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals.

The City reminds New Yorkers that this proposal has not yet gone into effect and that this proposal would not eligibility requirements for public benefits programs. The proposed regulation would also not be retroactively applied, so the proposed changes regarding use of public benefits now or through a 60-day “grace period” after the rule is finalized would not count against immigrants seeking green cards or visas.

The Trump Administration’s proposed expansion of “public charge” rules would harm immigrant families and threaten NYC’s economy. Under previous federal administrations, an applicant for a green card or certain types of visas could be barred based on a determination that they are a “public charge” if deemed likely to rely primarily on cash assistance or long-term care from the government for survival. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeks to expand their discretion to deny such applications based on an immigrant’s age, family size, income, and assets, as well as based on whether they have utilized certain cash or non-cash public benefits or programs they are legally entitled to use. By law, several categories of immigrants — including refugees and asylees — are not subject to the public charge test in their immigration applications.

The de Blasio Administration’s preliminary analysis has found that, if enacted, the proposal could:

  • Result in an annual loss of $235 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”), Cash Assistance, and Supplemental Security Income and the state supplement (SSI/SSP) if just 20% of the approximately 274,000 noncitizen New Yorkers currently receiving these benefits were to withdraw from participation; and
  • Lead to an additional loss of $185 million in related economic activity, if the same group of New Yorkers were to withdraw from receiving these three named benefits.

In addition, the City estimates the following effects on New York City residents, based on an analysis of Census data:

  • Force up to 75,000 immigrant New Yorkers to face a choice between accessing benefits to which they are legally entitled and possible future adverse immigration consequences;
  • Result in up to 400,000 immigrant New Yorkers who are not currently eligible to receive benefits but would face possible future adverse immigration consequences simply because of their age, health, education and employment history, and income and assets, among other factors; and
  • Prompt hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including U.S. Citizens, to withdraw from or forgo public benefits because of fear and confusion about the scope of the proposal and misinformation about the impact of their benefits usage on noncitizen members of their households.

Building on this preliminary analysis, the de Blasio Administration will continue to assess total possible impacts of the proposal. Given the complexity of the proposal and that benefits not directly administered by the City are included in the proposal, the City anticipates that the overall fiscal impact will be greater than what is indicated in the preliminary analysis.

Additionally, the impacts on NYC Health + Hospitals and other safety net providers, patients, and finances could be significant. Hospitals would also expect to see an increase in uninsured patients and uncompensated care, and sicker patients due to deferred access to medical care. These negative effects would have a destabilizing effect on community and individual health and well-being, as well as the financial stability of safety net providers.

The de Blasio Administration encourages New Yorkers in need of assistance to seek help. The City of New York has long-standing policies in place to protect the privacy of our clients and the confidentiality of client information pursuant to Federal, State and Local Law, as well as the policies of City agencies.

Help is available to those with questions about how this proposal could affect themselves and their families. New Yorkers can visit NYC.gov/PublicCharge for more information. Additionally, New Yorkers can call the New Americans Hotline, operated by Catholic Charities, at 1-800-566-7636 from 9 AM to 8 PM, Monday to Friday.

Following the official posting of the proposed rule to the Federal Register on October 10, 2018, there will be a 60-day period – closing December 10, 2018 – during which individuals can submit public comments to the federal government regarding the proposal. New Yorkers can make their voices heard by submitting a public comment through NYC.gov/PublicCharge.

“This proposed rule will not only be harmful to some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, it will be a drain on the city’s economy. Perhaps most disturbing, many immigrants will feel that they have to choose between getting a green card or accessing basic family needs, such as housing support and healthcare, between nutritional assistance or obtaining a visa. I urge all New Yorkers to submit comment and let the federal government know how disgusted we are at this new and deplorable offensive against our values,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“This heartless proposal targets some of our most vulnerable neighbors, including the children of immigrants, by forcing them to choose between a path to citizenship and benefits they should receive. Equally alarming, the Trump plan would have a chilling effect and many New Yorkers would forego benefits they are eligible to receive. This is wrong and it must be stopped,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez.

"Donald Trump's proposed public charge rule is yet another attempt to stoke fear in the hearts of immigrants and distract Americans from the harm inflicted by the Administration's tax cuts and the repeal of core provisions of the Affordable Care Act. If finalized, this rule would unnecessarily force immigrants to choose between core benefits and improving their immigration status. It is meant to divide us ahead of a major election and serves no purpose other than to achieve partisan gain at the expense of those who can afford to lose the least. I call on the Administration to rescind this rule and will do everything in my power to fight it,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.

"The results of this preliminary analysis make clear the stakes involved, and underscore the great responsibility we have as public servants to work together and prevent fear from taking hold by encouraging more, not less, participation in city services," said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. "In response, my Committee is putting in place tools to educate and enroll New Yorkers in public benefits, and I pledge to be a partner to every agency and committee in this endeavor. And to New Yorkers, remember: this proposed rule is not final just yet - we can stop it by making our voices heard. I encourage all New Yorkers to submit public comments here and to vote in the midterm elections on November 6."

“The Trump administrations proposed change to the ‘public charge’ rules not only represent a threat to nearly half a million immigrant New Yorkers, but to our entire economy,” said City Council Health Chair Mark Levine. “This action is as heartless and draconian as anything the Trump administration has done. Our city can and must act locally to remedy this dangerous situation, to ensure that every New Yorker--regardless of immigration status--receives essential, healthcare. We already know that a program to provide uninsured New Yorkers with community-based, primary care can work. ActionHealthNYC proved it can.”

“New York City’s immigrant communities are being directly attacked by the Trump administration, and this proposed rule is the latest cruel attempt to harm families. Programs like Medicaid, SNAP nutrition assistance, and housing rental vouchers have made all the difference for countless families across New York, and no one deserves to be discriminated against for accessing basic social services that allow our communities to thrive,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.  “As General Welfare Chair, I will work with my colleagues in government to do everything possible to fight this new rule and protect New Yorkers’ public benefits rights; a visit to the doctor’s office or an HRA center should never result in someone being denied a green card.”

“The public charge rule is a cruel and perverse attack on immigrant communities that contribute to our economy through their work, taxes, and entreprenuership.   We will continue to fight this rule through the public comment process, by engaging elected officials, and by educating communities about their rights. We stand arm-in-arm with our New York City partners in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrants Affairs and throughout New York City government to fight this new challenge for New York City immigrant communities,” said Claudia Calhoon, Director of Health Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition.

“We urge New Yorkers who have questions about the proposed rule to call the New American Hotline, not just for information but also for referrals to non-profit immigration legal service providers that can provide free consultations and advice,” said Raluca Oncioiu, director of the hotline at Catholic Charities. “People should not forgo benefits that are vital for the wellbeing of their families without consulting with immigration attorneys; the rule is not final yet, so there is time for everyone to seek individualized advice.”

“This public charge rule is another vicious, callous attack by the Trump Administration on low-income New Yorkers, especially our immigrant brothers and sisters,” said Jennifer Jones-Austin, CEO of FPWA, the largest network of service delivery organizations in New York City. “If enacted, it would force tens of thousands of immigrants in need to choose between putting food on the table and following the pursuit of life and liberty in our country. FPWA is committed to ensuring all New Yorkers can continue to access the benefits for which they are eligible, and to fighting against this cruel proposal in any way we can. We urge all New Yorkers to join us.”

"The Trump Administration's official publication of the public charge regulation is yet another example of the administration's attack on low income immigrants. This rule will force families to decide between accessing vital health and nutrition programs or keeping their families together. Due to the complexity of the rule, it is important that individuals who think that they could potentially be at risk of being a public charge consult with an advocate or attorney at a community based organization for assistance. The role of community based organizations during this time is more important than ever, to provide updated information to families so they understand if and how this proposed regulation could impact them. Individuals should continue accessing key public benefits for now since this is still a proposal and the rule has not gone into effect yet,” said Javier Valdes, Co Executive Director at Make the Road New York.

“It’s difficult to imagine something as cruel as forcing immigrant families and their children to choose between their legal status and their survival but that is precisely what this planned action by the White House is intended to do,” said Jose Calderon, president of Hispanic Federation. “Our network of over 100 Latino organizations is grateful to Mayor de Blasio and his administration for the strong leadership it is exercising on behalf of our immigrant families, and we pledge to work with allies across the country to fight this inhumane and cruel Trump policy in the courts, in Congress and at the ballot box.”

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