How To Protest Trump's "Public Charge" Rule That Targets Low-Income Immigrants

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In October, the Trump administration will implement a regulation that gives the government more power to reject green card status for thousands of immigrants. The new rule, which could favor wealthier immigrants over low-income immigrants according to Vox, has been met with swift criticism by numerous communities. And if you're one of the people who want to know how to protest Trump's new "public charge" rule, you'll be happy to know there are options.

According to Vox, the upcoming changes to the "public charge" rule (which was first codified into immigration law in 1882) will make it more difficult for legal immigrants to stay in the United States as permanent residents if they've taken advantage of public benefits in the past. These benefits include food stamps, housing assistance vouchers, and Medicaid. Per The New York Times, immigration officers will also consider an immigrant's age, health, family status, assets, and resources when making a decision about whether or not they will be granted permanent legal status.

Specifically, per the official text, the act will "render inadmissible" any immigrant who is "likely at any time to become a public charge." The text does not define "public charge" explicitly, but does mention that immigrants "within the Nation’s borders [should] not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations."

If the idea of deporting legal immigrants simply by virtue of their use of legal public benefits infuriates you, here's how you can protest the rule in the coming months:

Understand Why There's Opposition To Begin With

The first thing you can do to help the cause is to take time to fully understand why this upcoming change could be so devastating. For example, you can read this full interview that Marielena Hincapié gave to Vox about the issue. Hincapié is the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), an organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants in the U.S.

To Vox, Hincapié said,

...what the administration has done is radically expand the definition of “public charge” so that the use of a broader range of benefits — including things like nutrition assistance, public housing, a number of things including health care — could be used against individuals, even if it isn’t their primary source of income, to deny them the ability to stay in the United States permanently at the time they apply for the green card.
So the most immediate impact has been a humanitarian impact, in that there’s a chilling effect. The estimates from researchers is that about 26 million people would be impacted by this new rule, which we believe is a racially motivated rule to change the face of who we are as a nation.

If you want to read the wording of the regulation itself, you can also read it in full here.

Contact Your Lawmakers

Once you understand what's going on, one of the next immediate actions you can take is to contact your representatives in D.C. and let them know you're opposed to the new parameters around the "public charge" rule. You can point out the other politicians who have already stood up against the rule. For example, New York Attorney General Letitia James was the first to announce her intent to sue the Trump administration over the rule, per CNN.

Organize A Protest

If you feel so inclined, you could organize a local protest outside your state's political epicenter or near another public area, like a park or outside a town hall. There are plenty of resources available online that can guide you as you organize your protest.

This list of 9 steps to organize a peaceful protest, for example, is an excellent guide. It was technically created for protests against street harassment by the organization HollaBack!, an organization dedicated to fighting street harassment, but all of the steps are applicable for a protest against the "public charge" rule, too.

Support The Groups That Are Fighting Back

In addition to talking to your lawmakers, you can consider supporting the organizations who are taking on the legal battle against the Trump administration in the coming months. For example, you can donate to the National Immigration Law Center, which plans to file litigation to block the regulation from passing, according to Vox. You can also support other immigrant-focused organizations, like the ACLU.

Spread Accurate Information

One great way to protest the "public charge" rule is by spreading factual information to as many communities as possible, both online and out in the world. For those who support the upcoming regulation, you can point out that legal immigrants actually only make up 8% of the food stamp recipients in the nation, per CNBC; the rest are used up by native-born Americans.

And for immigrant communities, you can help spread the word that the law will not go into effect until Oct. 15, and will likely be delayed far past that due to the various legal battles which will take place. This means that immigrants should still feel able to access public benefits without fear of being deported.

Keep Track Of Key Statistics

It can often feel incredibly overwhelming to understand a complex political issue like immigration. So when you come across stats that help to shed light on the issue, consider writing them down or keeping them in a notes section on your phone. This will be helpful for you to remember, and for you to offer up as information to others, especially when people are making arguments that aren't actually based on factual data. You can read some of these immigration fast facts by CNN to start.

If the "public charge" rule bothers you, you should also check in on the issue from time to time over the coming months. There will likely be a number of updates via legal battles and other types of opposition, and with those updates could come more opportunities for you to protest alongside the organizations fighting for the rights of legal immigrants in America.