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Scrolling down the list of my primary care patients, I wondered who might be affected. A pregnant woman from Cameroon. An elderly woman with brittle bones from the Dominican Republic. A man with cancer from Ecuador. The Trump administration’s proposal to deny green card status to people who use services like food assistance and Medicaid threaten several of my patients with a harrowing choice: their health, or their immigration status.

A “public charge” is someone that the United States deems likely to be primarily dependent on the federal government for subsistence. The government can prevent public charges from adjusting their status from a visa category (such as work visa) to a legal permanent resident (green card holders). Immigrants thus have strong incentives to avoid this designation.

Historically, the government has designated as public charges only those immigrants who receive cash assistance from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in amounts that represent more than half of their personal income.

…continue reading ‘A Tortured Choice for Immigrants: Your Health or Your Green Card?’

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NY Times

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