Administration Will Not Defend New Public Charge Rule

Regulation | March 12, 2021 | by Linda Couch

On March 9, the Department of Homeland Security, on behalf of the U.S. government, announced it will no longer defend the Trump Administration’s 2019 public charge rule. The action follows a February 2 White House executive order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, directing agencies to review the 2019 public charge rule.

On March 9, the Department of Homeland Security, on behalf of the U.S. government, announced it will no longer defend the Trump Administration’s 2019 public charge rule. The action follows a February 2 White House executive order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, directing agencies to review the 2019 public charge rule.

Among other changes, the 2019 public charge rule expanded what qualifies as a “public benefit” to include certain housing assistance programs. LeadingAge submitted comments opposing the public charge rule because it would allow the denial of permanent residency to immigrants legally in the country because they accessed housing assistance, for example.

“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them. Consistent with the President’s vision, we will continue to implement reforms that improve our legal immigration system,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a March 9 statement.

As part of his presidential campaign platform, President Biden pledged to overturn the Trump Administration’s public charge rule changes. “Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, not just the wealthy,” President Biden’s campaign documents say.

LeadingAge had opposed the Trump Administration’s public charge rule and welcomes this policy change.