Under longstanding immigration law, an immigrant seeking permanent status or entry to the United States must prove she is not a “public charge,” or dependent on the government. Now, the Trump administration has proposed a new rule that would expand this test to include programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and housing subsidies, making it more difficult for those seeking a green card to get food or financial help.

Although the rule was just announced on Friday, immigrants living in the U.S. have been feeling its effects for months—avoiding seeking aid out of fear, even if the changes will not apply to them. An early draft leaked to the media sparked a sharp drop in use of public aid programs such as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which is not included in the current proposal. After President Donald Trump’s election, a Guardian investigation in 2017 found some undocumented immigrants were returning their vouchers and begging WIC’s offices to erase their names from records. In the year since, even more families have chosen to go without these benefits, resulting in a 20 percent decrease in enrollment in at least 18 states, Politico reports….

Pacific Standard Magazine