Help a Sick Child or Forgo Citizenship? Immigrants Anguish Over New Trump Rule

With the administration redefining who is a "public charge," immigrants worry that signing up for food stamps or health insurance will jeopardize their citizenship

A California woman whose son needs intensive medical care says she felt "like something blew up in my face" when she learned of a Trump administration rule that would make it tougher for legal residents like her to become citizens if they access the very services her son is eligible for — such as Medicaid, NBC News reports

“I have a son that has a serious medical condition,” Aicha, a lawful permanent resident living in California who asked to be identified only by her first name to avoid government attention, told NBC News. “Medicaid and food stamps … my son needs that, but it scares me that it might affect my chances of applying for my citizenship next year.”

Immigrants seeking to change their legal immigration status and who are enrolled in publicly funded programs such as food stamps and public health insurance could be deemed a “public charge” under the new rule starting on Oct. 15. Officials use the term to define someone who they consider may be likely to need public assistance in the future.

Aicha, who works three jobs to make ends meet, is one of roughly 45 million immigrants who pay billions of dollars in taxes to federal, state and local governments every year. But if immigration authorities label someone like her a “public charge,” they could deny their request for legal immigration status, putting them at risk of becoming undocumented in certain cases.

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