Immigrants have long stood as a central pillar of Greater Louisville’s economy. The region’s foreign-born population has been key to population growth, workforce participation, the development of a high-skill labor pool, and our regional startup and entrepreneurial scene. Ensuring that immigrants are able to continue contributing to economic growth in Greater Louisville is a top priority for GLI—which is why we recently submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in opposition to proposed changes to the “public charge” rule.
In case you’re not familiar, “public charge” is a term used by U.S. immigration authorities to describe a foreign-born person who is deemed to be primarily dependent on the government for basic subsistence. If immigration authorities determine an individual to be a public charge, they can use that as justification to deny them admission into the U.S. or a request for legal status – such as, for example, a green card or a work visa. Though the definition of public charge has changed over time, immigration authorities have historically relied on two criteria: the receipt of cash assistance and/or institutionalization in a long-term care facility at government expense. DHS’s proposed changes would dramatically expand the criteria under which the federal government could determine a foreign-born individual to be a “public charge” and thereby deny their request to live and/or work legally in the United States.
DHS’s new rule proposal would include participation—either in the past, present, or future—in a wide range of public assistance programs alongside numerous other factors as criteria for defining and determining public charge. Analyses of the rule have shown that these expanded criteria would likely lead to a significant decrease in the approval of applications for green cards and temporary work visas, which, in turn, would reduce the size and quality of our regional workforce.