RELEASE: Trump’s Public Charge Rule Imposes Radical New Restrictions on Legal Immigration

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new issue brief underscoring the radical and dangerous consequences of a forthcoming Trump administration rule to prioritize money over family in the legal immigration system. The CAP analysis estimates that, if all people in the United States were required to take President Donald Trump’s draconian “public charge” test, more than 100 million people—about one-third of the U.S population—would fail it.

This unilateral backdoor policy rewrite would fundamentally reshape legal immigration, dramatically limiting immigration for people who earn less than $62,750 a year for a family of four; opt to meet their families’ basic needs through provision of tax credits or other basic assistance; or have a medical condition and lack unsubsidized health insurance.

“This heartless rule would subvert Congress’ will and serves only to tear families apart and reverse immigration policies and practices that have been in place for nearly a century,” said Melissa Boteach, senior vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the issue brief. “Trump’s radical proposal reveals a deep disdain for the generations of immigrants who have made this nation what it is today but also lays bare the Trump administration’s agenda of boosting the wealthy at the expense of working-class people.”

The estimated impact represents only a snapshot of current circumstances; the Trump test would be ongoing, meaning that those who pass today could fail tomorrow if their circumstances were to change due to economic downturns, job insecurity, health problems, disability, or other factors. In fact, at least half of all people in the United States could fail this test if subject to it over a period of several years.

This rule would radically transform our family-based immigration system to make it impossible for most working-class immigrants to enter the country legally, deny means-tested services to millions of immigrant families, and cost state and local governments, employers, health care providers, and public education systems hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new costs.

Click here to read the issue brief, “Trump’s Immigration Plan Imposes Radical New Income and Health Tests.”

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Kyle Epstein at or 202.481.8137.