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Local Groups Sort Through Implications Of Supreme Court 'Public Charge' Ruling

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Local groups who work with immigrants in New Hampshire say they are trying to understand the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision allowing the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule to take effect.

The rule would allow officials to deny green cards to immigrants who are likely to need public assistance.  It broadened the criteria to include “noncash benefits providing for basic needs such as housing or food” used in any 12 months in a 26-month period.

Bruno Soares, an immigration advocate with New Hampshire Catholic Charities, says the ruling puts him and his organization in a tough spot when it comes to answering clients’ questsions about whether this means they should stop using public assistance.

"We cannot advise anybody to continue or discontinue under the program. and at the end of the day, they have to choose what is best for them,” he said.

One group that could be particularly affected are mixed-status households, where different family members have different citizen statuses.

Soares says some parents ask if their US Citizen children should stop receiving benefits, and while the ruling focuses on the green card applicant’s use of public assistance, there could be indirect impacts.

“When the person goes in to apply for the green card application and provides their financial documentation, the officer will see that kids are receiving benefits and the mother is not able to maintain the family,” he said. “That could have an indirect impact on the officer’s judgment on whether granting or not the green card application.”

According to The Center for American Progress, there are about 3,500 US-born children in New Hampshire with at least one undocumented family member living together.

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at dallee@nhpr.org.
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