WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long history of support for eligible immigrants seeking to obtain a visa or residency in the United States;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association believes that a visa or residency in the United States should be granted to eligible individuals without regard to the applicant’s income;

WHEREAS, the term “public charge” within the context of the Immigration and Nationality Act is a legal concept to determine admissibility to the United States (See 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4); INA 212(a)(4)), and individuals deemed to be “public charges” may be inadmissible to the United States;

WHEREAS, under current policy “public charge” includes, in relevant part, individuals who are likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence;

WHEREAS, under current policy an immigration official only may consider an immigrant’s current and past receipt of cash assistance (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, General Assistance, and social security disability benefits (SSI)) or receipt of Long-Term Care Medical Assistance when making a public charge determination;

WHEREAS, on October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which changes have been proposed regarding the definition of public charge;

WHEREAS, the proposed rules would expand the definition of public charge to include anyone who is likely at any time in the future to use federal Medicaid (except Emergency Medicaid), Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP food stamps), housing subsidies, and Medicare Part D subsidies;

WHEREAS, the proposed rules would heavily and negatively weigh the receipt of these benefits during public charge determinations;

WHEREAS, the proposed rules would create barriers and negatively impact immigrant families with lower or middle incomes including families with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty line (i.e., families of four making $62,000 annually, or about $7,000 more than the median income in Pennsylvania);

WHEREAS, the proposed change will effectively discourage immigrants from obtaining health insurance or healthcare, housing or food assistance for their families;

WHEREAS, the proposed change will effectively discourage eligible individuals from seeking visas or residency in the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes changes in federal regulations that expand the definition of a “public charge” and make it more difficult for lower or middle income families to seek visas or residency within the United States.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors authorizes the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee to communicate the contents of this resolution to the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, elected officials, the media and the public and to take such other efforts as may be necessary to effectuate this resolution.

ADOPTED: November 29, 2018