Catholic Charities’ Phone Bank & Facebook “Public Charge” Live Event Reaches 14,000

Posted on October 11, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Indicates Immigrants’ Concern & Confusion


More than 14,000 people concerned about the U.S. Administration’s proposed “Public Charge” immigration rule connected through a free phone bank and Facebook Live event hosted last week by Catholic Charities NY and its partners, a clear measure of immigrants’ confusion over the changes proposed.   The rule, under the Administration’s interpretation, would profoundly affect which immigrants can get green cards and extend or change temporary visas to the United States. 

“What is frightening about the majority of the calls we got during the phone bank,” said Raluca Oncioiu, Catholic Charities NY director of Immigration Legal Services, “is that they came from vulnerable community members ready to disenroll from or forego important public benefits crucial for the well-being of their families.”

Moreover, she added, “many of these calls were from people who would not be subject to the proposed changes, including US citizens and legal permanent residents,” underlining the tumult the proposed change has caused.

Considered among the most far-reaching immigration policy changes proposed by the Trump administration to date, the proposed rule would change how certain green card applicants are determined to be “likely to become a public charge” (i.e. likely to receive financial support from the government) and therefore denied green cards, immigrant visas and extensions or changes of non-immigrant (temporary) visas. Under current policy, only receipt of public cash assistance (including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income) and long-term institutionalization at government expense count in the public charge determination. The proposed rule would expand the type of benefits that would make someone considered a public charge to include Medicaid, Medicare Part D, food stamps and subsidized housing and add additional changes as well.

Catholic Charities NY legal staff and volunteers from other agencies answered the phone bank organized in partnership with the Office for New Americans, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the New York Immigration Coalition, Hispanic Federation, Univision and El Diario.  During the four-hour phone bank operators answered more than 830 calls and provided more than 1,200 referrals. Meanwhile, the Facebook Live event streamed live video to 14,000 followers, yielding 4,100 views and 320 engagements during the single hour it ran last week.

“Because the proposed changes are complex,” Ms. Oncioiu added, “will not affect all immigrants, and will only take effect 60 days after the rule becomes final, which is likely to be many months from now it is very important to get individualized legal advice before foregoing benefits.”

Missed the Public Charge Rule event or still have questions?

Call the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636, from 9 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday, for a referral to a free legal service provider.   

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