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ACR-1 Immigration: public charges.(2019-2020)

Current Version: 09/26/19 - Chaptered Compare Versions information image


Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 1

Relative to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  September 26, 2019. ]


ACR 1, Bonta. Immigration: public charges.
This measure would condemn regulations recently adopted by the Department of Homeland Security to prescribe how a determination of inadmissibility for a person who is not a citizen or national is made based on the likelihood that the person will become a public charge. This measure would also urge the federal government to repeal the new regulations.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, Under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, an individual seeking admission to the United States or seeking to adjust status and obtain lawful permanent residence may be deemed inadmissible or denied permanent residence if the individual, at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a “public charge”; and
WHEREAS, The current guidelines for making a “public charge” determination only consider critical cash assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is implemented in California through the CalWORKs program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and programs supporting individuals who are institutionalized for long-term care, such as in a nursing home or institutional care facility; and
WHEREAS, On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security adopted regulations regarding “public charge” determinations; and
WHEREAS, The new regulations change the longstanding definition of “public charge” from describing an immigrant as “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” to describing an immigrant who “receives one or more public benefits ... for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, the receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two month)”; and
WHEREAS, The new regulations expand the list of benefits to be considered when making a “public charge” determination to include Medicaid (with certain exceptions for emergency Medicaid, children under 21 years of age, pregnant women, women 60 days postpartum, and, in California, state-funded Medi-Cal expansions), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and housing choice vouchers, among others; and
WHEREAS, The broadening of benefits considered when making “public charge” determinations threatens to deny eligible immigrant applicants a green card if they are a person below a certain income level, or access to critical health care, nutrition, or other federally funded programs; and
WHEREAS, For all people, health care access, housing, and nutrition assistance helps them and their families stay healthy, work, thrive, and contribute to society; and
WHEREAS, California is home to more than 10 million immigrants, constituting 27 percent of the state’s population, and the regulations single out immigrant families; and
WHEREAS, Immigrants in California contribute billions of dollars in federal, state, and local taxes to help support all government programs, including $56,500,000,000 in federal taxes and $26,400,000,000 in state and local taxes in 2014; and
WHEREAS, The regulations could lead to extensive disenrollment from public benefit programs that could result in $151,000,000 of lost state and local tax revenue and $2,800,000,000 in lost economic output; and
WHEREAS, The regulations require consideration of whether immigrants use programs related to health and well-being in deciding whether to deny an immigrant entry into the United States or lawful permanent residence; and
WHEREAS, The regulations create a bright-line income threshold when making public charge determinations. If an immigrant’s income is below that threshold, it would be considered a negative factor in that determination, regardless of whether the immigrant uses any of the enumerated benefits, thereby targeting low-income working immigrants and disproportionately affecting people of color and low-wage laborers; and
WHEREAS, The regulations weigh English proficiency as an additional factor to be considered in “public charge” determinations, thereby singling out immigrants with limited English language proficiency and immigrants from countries where English is not a primary language rather than increasing access to programs that serve English language learners; and
WHEREAS, California is stronger when residents in need are able to access its safety net without fear for themselves, their family, or their future; and
WHEREAS, Over 70 percent of the lives touched by the regulations are children; and
WHEREAS, One in two children in California have at least one immigrant parent; and
WHEREAS, Investing in nutrition, health care, and other essential needs keeps children learning, parents working, families strong, and allows all of us to contribute fully to our communities; and
WHEREAS, Already, low-income children with immigrant parents are less likely to receive SNAP or Medicaid than are children whose parents were born in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Since 1996, federal law has locked out many immigrants from accessing federal programs, including full-scope Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), SNAP, TANF, and SSI, for at least five years; and
WHEREAS, California recognizes the value of these safety net services and has proactively responded to unjust federal restrictions; and
WHEREAS, California expanded access to full-scope Medi-Cal to newly-qualified immigrants, DACA beneficiaries, undocumented children, and undocumented young adults, and ensured access to critical safety net assistance for some Californians excluded by federal policies; and
WHEREAS, The fear of being deemed a “public charge” and denied lawful permanent residence or entry to the United States, or potentially being subject to deportation for seeking essential benefits for which they are eligible, creates additional fear, anxiety, and confusion among immigrant Californians, particularly given the recent draconian and intimidating policies of the federal government, such as the proposed rule, forwarded for review on July 3, 2019, from the Department of Justice to the Office of Management and Budget, on deportation based on public charge grounds and scheduled for public comment later this year; and
WHEREAS, These federal regulations run contrary to California’s values and bipartisan efforts that recognize the significance and value of integrating immigrant populations into the state, including in areas related to health care, education, and safety net access; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature condemns the federal government’s recent regulatory changes that undermine California’s critical safety net programs and the well-being of our communities; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature urges the federal government to repeal the regulations, which target California’s most vulnerable communities and will undoubtedly harm the social and economic well-being of the state and the nation for generations to come; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Majority Leader of the Senate, to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, and to the author for appropriate distribution.