August 13, 2019

Florida Policy Analysts: Public Charge Rule Could Have 'Ripple' Effect [WUSF]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Daylina Miller of WUSF writes:

"A new Department of Homeland Security rule means immigrants legally in the United States may no longer be eligible for green cards if they use food stamps, Medicaid and other public benefits.

Florida Policy Institute analysts say that’s already having a 'chilling effect' on immigrants coming into the country, individuals now worried about applying for medical and housing assistance.

'So we're talking about people here who have legal status, but whose receipt of public assistance is going to affect their ability to adjust that status and stay in the country,' said Cindy Huddleston with FPI [emphasis added].


A recent Florida Policy Institute report says for the first time, the rule will make a income thresholds a central issue in immigration decisions.  For example, having an individual annual income of under $15,613 or under $32,188 for a family of four would be weighed negatively and could lead to a denial.

The group found that the rule could impact over a million Floiridians who use public safety net programs and are on a path to citizenship.

'And so really, this is a rule that will have a tremendous discriminatory impact against lower income families,' said Anne Swerlick of FPI [emphasis added]. 'And of course, many of those immigrants provide the central workforce capacity in Florida, especially in the service industry. So, again, this can have a very adverse ripple effect on Florida's economy.'


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