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Trump 'fixer' Michael Cohen gets three years, and Trump calls him a liar. Also on the Thursday rundown: Higher smoking rates cause some states to fall in health rankings; and the Farm Bill helps wilderness areas.

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'Public Charge' Change May Affect Many NC Children

Proposed changes to the definition of "public charge" already are having an impact on children. One in four American children has at least one immigrant parent. (abeer_alabdullah/Pixabay)
Proposed changes to the definition of "public charge" already are having an impact on children. One in four American children has at least one immigrant parent. (abeer_alabdullah/Pixabay)
November 23, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Advocates for immigrants say changes to the definition of "public charge," a term used to issue green cards and permanent status, have given access to public services a bad rap.

The changes would affect policies that govern how the use of public benefits may affect an individual’s ability to obtain a green card.

Kate Woomer-Deters, senior attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center, says the change impacts close to 400,000 people living here legally.

"And then there are people who live in immigrant households who may be indirectly impacted because somebody else in their household is not able to obtain a green card, or because their family members dropped themselves out – or their children out – of public benefits due to fear and confusion over the rules," she adds.

A report from the North Carolina Justice Center says more than 170,000 children live in a family with at least one non-citizen.

Since the changes were announced, Angeline Echeverría, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group El Pueblo, says her organization has seen declining involvement in food and nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

"So we're actually already seeing a negative impact of this rule, even though it's only been proposed it's been covered widely in immigrant media outlets, and so community members know that this change is coming and already staying home," she states.

Nationwide, an estimated 25 percent of children live in a family with an immigrant parent, and nearly 86 percent of these children are citizens.

Although the impacts already are being felt in immigrant communities, Echeverria says this is only a proposal that hasn't gone into effect yet and the federal government is asking for public comments through Dec. 10.

"This proposed rule will keep community members from accessing services,” she points out. “If they hope to become a legal permanent resident they will be less likely to seek services that they are actually eligible for and that their family is eligible for."

Experts say the proposed "public charge" would contribute to more uninsured and negatively affect the healthy development of children.

To comment on the proposal, visit federalregister.gov.

Antionette Kerr/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NC