How Proposed Changes to Public Charge Would Impact Children in Immigrant Communities

Little boy carrying his sister.

In This Report:

Editor’s Note, 10/15/19: Several federal courts have issued nationwide injunctions blocking implementation of the proposed changes to the public charge rule. We will update any further developments.


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed regulation that would radically change U.S. immigration policy. The changes would ripple through nearly every aspect of the lives of the over ten million citizen children with noncitizen parents, including health care, nutrition, and housing. This fact sheet explains the proposed rule, focusing on how the changes would impact children’s health coverage. Over the last few decades, Medicaid policies have been improved to make it easier for children – including lawfully residing immigrant children – to get and stay covered, helping us reach historic coverage levels of over 95 percent. These coverage gains are already at risk, and the proposed rule to radically redefine what constitutes public charge would surely lead to a backslide.1 Children with health coverage are more likely to become healthy adults and achieve greater academic and economic success2, but this proposed rule would jeopardize those opportunities for children in immigrant communities.

Full Fact Sheet

Download and read the fact sheet.

  1. Pham, O., Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, New Census Data Reveal Troubling Signs for Children’s Health Coverage (Sep- tember 2018), available at https://ccf.georgetown. edu/2018/09/14/new-census-data-reveal-troubling- signs-for-childrens-health-coverage.
  2. Wagnerman, K., Chester, A., and Alker, J., Georgetown University Center for Children and Fami- lies, Medicaid is a Smart Investment in Children (March 2017), available at tent/uploads/2017/03/MedicaidSmartInvestment.pdf.
Kelly Whitener is an Associate Professor of the Practice at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.