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Immigration advocates concerned about "public charge" changes

For many Arizona residents, the Trump administration's policies and rhetoric around immigration have raised serious concerns, especially for those who are immigrants themselves or who have loved ones who are. While many of these policies have been justified by rhetoric focusing on undocumented immigration, another new regulation is taking aim at people who entered and remained in the country legally. The changes to the "public charge" regulation could make it more difficult for visa and green card applicants to win approval if they have less education or lower incomes.

In addition, they could also be penalized by using various forms of legal government assistance, like Section 8 housing vouchers, food stamps or Medicaid. People could be labeled as a greater risk of needing government aid in the future. According to the Department of Homeland Security, it could affect around 382,000 people who want to change their immigration status. However, immigration lawyers noted that millions more could be affected by the changes, which could also lead to declining public health and worse outcomes for immigrant children as people avoid accessing important programs in order to protect their future status.

The New York state attorney general's office announced plans to file suit against the new federal rule, saying that it will cause children to go hungry and families to go without health care. The previous definition of "public charge" focused only on cash aid like TANF or Supplemental Security Income, while the new definition includes a wide range of programs that have previously been excluded.

Many argue that the changes penalize hard-working people who need temporary assistance in order to build their new lives in the U.S. People who are concerned about their immigration status can consult with an attorney about how they can stay in the country.

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