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Public Charge Rule Discriminates Against People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C. – The Arc is deeply concerned that the Department of Homeland Security’s discriminatory public charge rule is now in effect.

The new policy could have terrible impacts on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) by allowing the federal government to deny admission into the U.S. or an application for a green card based solely on a person’s disability and the use or expected use of public benefits like Medicaid. Medicaid is the only funding source that covers long-term services and supports for many people with disabilities. Home and community-based services are not covered by private insurance. The rule also dramatically expands the list of public benefits the Administration considers a strike against you, and the negative consequences start at a much lower level of assistance.

The new policy also creates fear among immigrant families already in the U.S. that rely on public services – fear of jeopardizing their immigration status by utilizing the critical benefits they are legally entitled to. This is not only unfair and counter to the purposes of these programs, but can create bad economic outcomes and harm public health. We have already seen evidence of the intimidation and harmful consequences  of the new regulations. The Kaiser Family Foundation says nearly half of community health centers report that many immigrant families declined to enroll in Medicaid in the past year, and nearly a third of centers report that some patients dropped or decided not to renew coverage – even for their children.

“People with any type of disability should have equal opportunity to enter and live legally in the U.S. The public charge rule is cruel – and amounts to clear cut discrimination. We call on Congress to immediately intervene,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc. “The Arc and our allies have been fighting for a long time against exclusion and bias based on disability and we will continue to do so on the ground and in the courts.”

The Arc and a large coalition of national disability advocacy groups filed multiple amicus briefs in support of several cases to block the Administration from implementing the public charge rule, arguing that it would prevent people with disabilities from entering the country or becoming legal residents in violation of federal disability laws.

While implementation of the rule had been halted by preliminary injunctions in various courts across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court has now stayed both the nationwide and state injunctions in two decisions, the most recent issued last Friday. Though the rule is now in effect across the country, litigation is ongoing, and The Arc will continue our work to honor and protect the human and civil rights of all people with I/DD.