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As ‘Public Charge’ Rule Goes Into Effect, Child Immigrant Enrollment In Services Already Down

Supporters of proposals to expand California's government-funded health care ...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Supporters of proposals to expand California's government-funded health care benefits to undocumented immigrants gathered at the Capitol for the Immigrants Day of Action, Monday, May 20, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed offering government-funded health care benefits to immigrant adults ages 19 to 25 who are living in the country illegally. State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, has proposed a bill to expand that further to include seniors age 65 and older.

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Changes to the country’s “public charge” rule will make it harder for poor immigrants in America to become legal residents if they rely on safety net programs like subsidized healthcare and food benefits.

Aired: February 26, 2020 | Transcript

After a ruling by the Supreme Court last week, a new set of Trump administration rules that could have a far-ranging impact on San Diego’s immigrant population has now taken effect.

Changes to the federal “public charge” rule, which was first proposed in 2018, will make it harder for poor immigrants in America to become legal residents if they rely on safety net programs like subsidized healthcare and food benefits.

News of the rule may have already had an impact on enrollment in social services in San Diego County.

Study: California Could Lose Millions As Immigrants Begin Disenrolling From Healthcare Programs

The San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency says enrollment in Medi-Cal is down more than 11% among undocumented children since a year ago.

"Per our estimates, you’re looking at higher medical costs for families, but approximately $510 million lost in federal funding to the state in California," said Almas Sayeed, an attorney at the California Immigrant Policy Center.

She explained that the potential impact on the state will be far-reaching, as immigrants drop out of the program and California faces a loss in federal funding because of it.

"That loss in federal funding might mean a loss in jobs might mean a loss in economic output, and certainly it means lower health outcomes and people’s lives at stake," she said.

The number of child recipients in Cal-Fresh, which provides food assistance, has also dropped almost 10% over the past year. The county says it cannot prove the decrease in enrollment is caused by the public charge rule.

"Immigrant communities contribute $3.2 billion in tax revenue alone to California," Sayeed said. "Most families who are eligible for these programs are a paycheck away from not being able to feed their families and being rendered homeless."

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

Photo of Max Rivlin-Nadler

Max Rivlin-Nadler
Speak City Heights Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover the border, which includes everything from immigration to border politics to criminal justice issues. I'm interested in how the border impacts our daily lives and those of our neighbors, especially in ways that aren't immediately clear to us.

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