Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: A Chill Before the Freeze: The Effect of the Public Charge Proposal on the Health and Well-Being of Mixed-Status Families
Authors: Gonzales, Rachel
Advisors: Mann, Anastasia
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: In September of 2018, the Department of Homeland Security announced its proposed changes to the long-standing public charge policy. This policy applies to non-citizens applying for admission to the United States or for adjustment of status to Legal Permanent Resident. Under current standards, these individuals may be deemed a “public charge” based on their receipt of cash benefits and other factors including age, income, and employment status. If deemed a “public charge,” the applicant could be found inadmissible, meaning that the individual would not be granted admission or adjustment of status. The proposed changes to the public charge rule seek to include non-cash benefits, such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as a factor in these public charge determinations. Many scholars have claimed that the implementation of this proposed change would generate fear of public benefit participation among immigrant communities. This would deter non-citizens from participating in these non-cash benefit programs, creating what is known as a chilling effect. While scholars have addressed the potential implications of implementing such changes, less attention has been paid to the effect that the mere discussion of these changes has had on immigrant families. This thesis will study this issue through both qualitative observations from leaders of organizations that work with immigrant families and quantitative analyses of public benefit enrollment data following the proposal. Using this mixed-methods approach, this thesis will demonstrate things: 1) the public charge proposal itself generated a chilling effect without any implementation of changes to the public charge policy, 2) the Trump Administration had the intention of creating a chilling effect with the public charge proposal, and 3) the chilling effect extends beyond the noncitizens named in the rule and affects the health and well-being of citizen members of mixed-status families. These three conclusions inform us that policies need not be implemented to have an effect. In “icy” political climates especially, even the mere discussion of policy change is enough to negatively impact vulnerable populations.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2019

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
GONZALES-RACHEL-THESIS.pdf484.75 kBAdobe PDF    Request a copy

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.