Attorney General Becerra Denounces Trump Administration’s Proposed Regulation on Public Charge, Fights for California Families 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

 Changes to Public Charge would hurt hardworking immigrant families, including children 

Proposed regulation would undermine California’s work to protect and promote programs and policies that advance better health, safety, education, and economic prosperity  

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged the Trump Administration not to move forward with their proposal to rewrite rules that limit who can become a citizen based on the use of publicly-funded programs. In a comment letter, Attorney General Becerra opposed changes that seek to limit or take away access to critical and lifesaving programs and services such as healthcare through Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program), nutrition and food support for children and families through CalFresh (California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and housing for families through Section 8 housing assistance. These programs are designed to help families make ends meet and ensure strong, healthy families in California. California is home to over 10 million immigrants, and half of all children in California have a parent who is an immigrant. Attorney General Becerra argues that the proposed rule threatens to undo California’s growing success in expanding the accessibility and reach of crucial programs that support the State’s workforce, public health, and economic prosperity. 

"Hardworking immigrants should not be pushed into a life of fear and intimidation for seeking basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare,” said Attorney General Becerra. “No parent should have to choose between providing food for a child or jeopardizing their family’s immigration status. This is an assault on our families and our communities. California doesn’t intend to backslide. We will do what we must to challenge this reckless proposal.”

In the letter, Attorney General Becerra further argues that the unlawful regulation will:

  • Destabilize California families, many of which include both U.S. citizens and immigrants, by denying them access to healthcare, nutrition support, and housing.
  • Create a substantial health risk for the public and individuals across the state by jeopardizing access to care and threatening public health outbreaks statewide. The rule would have the chilling effect of discouraging people from seeking needed healthcare.
  • Undermine California’s investments in programs that advance support for families, by harming decades of effort to implement state programs that provide broad access to healthcare, nutrition, and housing, regardless of immigration status.  
  • Harm California children, by taking a severe toll on health, nutrition, and housing stability of children throughout the state. 

On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that would significantly change the grounds for excluding immigrants under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Current guidance by the federal government defines a public charge as a person who is primarily dependent on either public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutional long-term care at the government’s expense. The new regulation vastly expands this definition by punishing immigrants for using food, housing and medical assistance that were previously safe to use. 

In May, Attorney General Becerra wrote to then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mulvaney outlining the economic impact such a cruel decision could have on communities across California. As the letter mentions, "of all states, California stands to lose the most."  

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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