Will ‘Public Charge’ Block Citizenship for Immigrants?

In a little-watched issue, advocates for immigrants say the U.S. government might redefine “public charge,” which could deny citizenship status. Compounding concerns: Recent family separations and other detentions. Overlooked: The well-being of families.

When Mychi Nguyen was 5 years old, in the mid-1980s, her family arrived in the United States as refugees from Vietnam. “We relied on public assistance to make it through and survive. My sister went to Head Start. My mother worked very, very hard. Coming to a country with nothing, you create a new life for yourself—and there are tons of barriers: language, culture, food,” she recalls. “Getting some of your needs met is huge. Having that assistance in the beginning was a huge game-changer. I was…an immigrant, a refugee, and I needed help. And the U.S. government provided help. We’re very grateful for it.”

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