5 things you should know about the new public charge rule

By Teague González, director of Public Benefits

Changes to the “Public Charge” rule go into effect today. Some of the changes include allowing the government to deny permanent residency (green cards) and visa renewals to certain lawfully present immigrants who participate in basic need programs like Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, and housing assistance.

The Trump administration is counting on fear to harm immigrant families and turn lifesaving programs against families. But the new public charge rule change applies to very few immigrants. Get all the facts and always talk to someone to make the best choices for your family.

Here are 5 important things you need to know about public charge:

Number 1: The test does not apply to people who are already legal permanent residents — as long as they don’t leave the US for 6 consecutive months. 
Number 2: The rule does not apply to people who want to adjust from legal permanent resident to citizens. 
Number 3: It never applies to US citizen children. A US citizen child’s use of benefits is never counted against their parent no matter the parent’s immigration status. Please do not disenroll or cancel your US citizen children from Medicaid or Food Stamps without talking to someone first. 
Number 4: There are important exceptions to the public charge rule, for example, pregnant women may receive Medicaid during their pregnancies and up to 60 days after delivery and this will not be counted against them when they try to become legal permanent residents. The same goes for Medicaid use by children under 21 years of age who want to become legal permanent residents. 
Many categories of immigrants are exempt from the rule like T and U Visa holders, as are VAWA beneficiaries, and many other statuses. 
Number 5: Many government benefits are not included in the public charge rule like school breakfast and lunch, WIC, CHIP, unemployment benefits and many more. 

This is why it is very important that you talk with someone about the rule change before you make any decisions about canceling your benefits or your children’s benefits. 

Please call 505-255-2840 with any questions. Watch the video in English and Spanish. Get the handout in English or Spanish.

Paid Summer Internship

Spend your summer fighting for social justice!

The Seth D. Montgomery Fellowship is a paid 10-week, full-time position at the Center for an outstanding first or second year law student. The Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend and will work closely with our attorneys in one or more of our areas of work, doing legal research, drafting pleadings and advocacy materials, and performing issue analysis, investigation and outreach to affected communities. The Fellow will learn about the Center’s unique model for advancing justice through creative lawyering and advocacy, and develop skills to become an effective advocate for social change.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2020

To apply, please email a cover letter, resume, short writing sample, and law school transcript to Sovereign Hager contact@nmpovertylaw.org. Enter in the Subject Heading: “Seth Montgomery Fellowship”. If you have a particular interest in one of our areas of work, let us know about it in your cover letter.

Paralegal/Administrative Assistant

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty seeks a highly organized Paralegal/Administrative Assistant to advance our advocacy and litigation. Position is part time.

The Center is a nationally recognized non-profit law firm that engages in systemic advocacy and impact litigation to advance the health, economic and educational wellbeing of New Mexico’s families. We provide advocacy through the courts, the legislature and administrative agencies, and through community education and media. 

Successful applicant will support the Center’s advocacy by: communicating with clients; conducting factual investigation such as obtaining documents, photographs and other evidence; performing legal research; editing/proofing/filing pleadings and other legal documents; organizing, analyzing, summarizing and indexing documents; preparing charts, tables and other demonstrative evidence; investigating and developing cases and projects assigned, and conducting necessary interviews. 

Requirements: college degree; paralegal certification or equivalent experience required; high level of proficiency in verbal and written communication; excellent research and analytic skills; self-motivated and dependable; detail-oriented; commitment to economic and racial justice. 

Preferred characteristic: Spanish proficiency.  

Salary range for this position: Commensurate with experience.  
To apply, send cover letter and resume to contact@nmpovertylaw.org.   The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is an equal opportunity employer.  People with disabilities, people of color, former recipients of public assistance, or people who have grown up in low income communities are especially encouraged to apply.