Since the 1880s, US immigration law has contained a provision, the Public Charge rule, which was aimed at excluding “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.”
In recent history a person was considered a public charge if they were primarily dependent on the federal government for subsistence. Since 1999, “primarily dependent” has been defined as someone who “received federal, state, or local cash assistance for income maintenance or were institutionalized for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Trump Administration attempted to use the Public Charge rule as another barrier to entry for those seeking a better life in this country.
In 1900, the Workers Circle was founded by Yiddish-speaking Eastern European immigrants who came to the US with little or nothing in their pockets. They would have been considered a public charge, and certainly wouldn’t have been able to get to America if Trump’s proposed changes to the public charge rule were in effect.
As part of an effort to make lasting change to this rule, we want to hear your family’s public charge story! Next year, we plan to lift up your public charge stories as part of a campaign to address this discriminatory rule and make sure it is not used to keep anyone else out. Were you or your family considered a public charge? Share your story with us!