Student response to proposed immigration policy changes

Dear members of the Harvard Chan School community,

On September 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a new regulation that may make it more difficult for legal immigrants who have received public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps, to obtain green cards that would allow them to stay in the U.S. permanently. This proposal would dramatically alter a longstanding immigration policy known as “public charge,” a category used to determine whether someone seeking to live in the U.S. permanently is likely to become heavily dependent on government assistance.

Previously, the public charge designation applied to people who immigration officials deemed at risk of becoming dependent on cash assistance or help with long-term care. Broadening the category to include safety-net programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and public-housing assistance may give the administration a considerable amount of discretion to decide who is likely to become a public charge at some point in the future.

The Latinx Students in Public Health Association at Harvard Chan School has been collaborating with other student groups within the School and across the University, including Harvard Medical School, Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to raise awareness of this issue. They are encouraging members of the School community to submit a comment opposing the proposed rule before Dec. 10, which is the deadline for public comment in the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted at either of the following:

In addition, the students are participating in a “Week of Action” event across Harvard that includes two events at the School:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 5: An FXB Center public forum moderated by Prof. Nancy Krieger in Kresge G-3, 1-2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 6: Teach-in and comment writing party in Kresge G-2, 1-2 p.m.

Thank you for your commitment to our public health mission.


Michelle A. Williams, ScD
Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development,
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School