The final regulations regarding “public charge” and immigration have been released by the Department of Homeland Security. These regulations stiffen the existing provisions regarding both income and the use of public services for prospective immigrants. While the existing regulations provide an understandable parameter for limiting immigration, the new regulations set much higher limits and will likely keep even existing legal immigrants from seeking any subsidized services.
Adult education programs around the country are already seeing students withdraw from programs for fear of deportation, even when they possess legal documentation. These new regulations will increase this unfounded paranoia and fear on the part of students and their families. This fear results in immigrants not taking advantage of any services, regardless of whether they are included in the “public charge” formula.
As an adult education organization, we filter our observations and comments through an adult literacy lens and generally comment on areas that directly affect programs and students and the services we provide. In this case, the new regulations do not include adult education services, however, the indirect impact and overall fear will clearly have a detrimental effect on students.
Nearly 250,000 comments were made concerning these proposed changes, with an overwhelming majority opposing them. It is up to Congress and the courts to stop the ultimate implementation of these new rules. We support the efforts to limit this change. We suggest that the department focus on other issues related to overall immigration reform rather than target unneeded provisions that will adversely affect our students.