Sharing Compassion, Information on the Public Charge Proposal

DHS Director's Message
Message from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht​

November 16, 2018

Our work at the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) centers on creating safety, health, and independence for people in our communities. When the people we touch through our work are not feeling safe, we want to help. Right now, many of our immigrant families are fearing a proposal to change the federal public charge rule and we need to be aware of what’s happening.

Public charge is a term used in immigration law to describe a person who is likely to become dependent on public benefits. Being considered a public charge can result in the denial of a lawful permanent residency application or entry to the United States. The only public assistance that can be considered now when determining if a person will become a public charge is cash assistance or Medicaid-funded, long-term care services and supports in institutional settings.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proposing an expansion of the kinds of public benefits to be considered when determining public charge. The proposal includes adding some programs we administer. Please review the attached Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document for details.

It’s important to know this is at the proposal stage and nothing has changed in the eligibility for our programs. I also want to assure you that Oregon is deeply concerned that the proposal threatens access to basic food, health care and housing for our children and families. DHS and the Governor are voicing our opposition to the proposal.

We are part of a statewide workgroup the Governor brought together to respond to the public charge expansion proposal by the deadline on December 10, 2018. We also have an internal workgroup looking at potential impacts by program. Your program directors will be sharing more information soon. We also need your help.

People we work with may feel anxious about the proposal. We have a responsibility to them to be compassionate and careful in our response to their questions. We can be of most use to them by sharing accurate, appropriate information and resources, and not offering counsel on legal or immigration issues outside our wheelhouse.

To help you answer questions, the FAQ has been posted online in nine languages. The FAQ gives you guidance on talking with people who have questions about the public charge proposal. It includes information on where they can go for help to understand the proposal’s potential impacts on immigration status. You are welcome to share this resource.

We all are part of DHS because we want to serve and support the people living alongside us in our communities – our neighbors, our families, and our colleagues. It is a time of unease for the immigrant members of our communities. I am confident that through their interactions with you, they will find that DHS is a place where they are met with compassion and information to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

Please keep an eye out for more information on the public charge expansion proposal over the next month.

We appreciate all you do to create safety, health and independence for all people who seek our help.