Our Public Charge Story

Our Public Charge Story (1)

What is the public charge rule?

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.

Our public charge Story: Why does the Workers Circle care?

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 an organization that champions the rights and well-being of immigrants and fights for economic justice, we agree with Judge George B. Daniels of the New York Federal District Court. In his ruling blocking the implementation of the Trump public charge rule, he called it, “…repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”

We’re taking action to end this racist wealth test!
Check out highlights from our ongoing campaign below.

Action Alerts

Action Alert: Urge your lawmakers to co-sponsor the HEAL Act


The Workers Circle Applauds Court Order Blocking Trump’s Public Charge Rule

The Workers Circle Condemns Trump’s Draconian Changes to Public Charge

The Workers Circle Celebrates House Passage of HEROES Act

Press Highlights

Ann Toback Queens Daily Eagle Letter to the Editor: Workers Circle applauds court ruling that stops immigration wealth test

Ann Toback’s New York Times Letter to the Editor: “Another Setback for Immigrants”

Ann Toback New York Jewish Week op-ed: The ‘Public Charge’ Rule Puts Immigrants in the Crosshairs

Ann Toback Queens Daily Eagle op-ed: ‘Public charge’ could be public health catastrophe

Ann Toback’s AM Metro New York op-ed


The Workers Circle one pager on the public charge rule

Urban Institute Report: One in Seven Adults in Immigrant Families Reported Avoiding Public Benefit Programs in 2018