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Immigrant Inclusion & Racial Justice

December 4, 2018

By Cynthia Moreno, Rhonda Ortiz, Manuel Pastor, Blanca Ramirez, and Kim Tabari

Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a proposal to implement an expansion of who could be deemed a public charge and what benefits could be considered in a public charge determination. This change is important because a public charge determination has long been used in consideration of immigrants’ ability to enter the U.S. or to change their status. According to the current United States Citizenship and Immigration Services definition, “in determining inadmissibility to the U.S., public charge is defined as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.”

The policy change proposed by the administration, would greatly expand how a public charge is defined by more closely scrutinizing immigrant use of life-saving public benefits and adding additional non-cash benefit programs, such as: non-emergency Medicaid; Medicare Part D low income subsidy; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and rental/housing assistance. These changes will have expansive impacts on immigrants, their families, and communities they live in across Los Angeles County and the nation.

Research analysis by Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) details the potential impacts and implications of the proposed changes to the public charge definition to the residents in Los Angeles County. Based on a review of existing literature and data from a customized dataset that better indicates which residents are lawful permanent residents (LPRs), we share three main findings:

  1. The proposed change is likely to have a significant negative impact on mixed-status families, which include U.S.-born children to immigrant parents.
  2. The change could erode trust of public agencies and services, leading to a decline in crime reporting, threatening public safety for all L.A. County residents.
  3. The change could lead to a decline in usage and enrollment to health care and other L.A. County services, creating challenges for immigrants and U.S.-born alike.

Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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