On February 2, 2021, President Biden signed three executive orders addressing immigration, which included a review of the Trump Administration’s public charge rule. The review intends to evaluate the effects of the rule, address concerns about the effects of the rule, clarify current public charge policies, and communicate any proposed changes.
What is public charge?
The Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule–which went into effect on August 14, 2019–was intentionally designed to create significant chilling effects on the use of government benefits nationwide and rig immigration for the wealthy. This administrative rule change made it so a person’s utilization of public assistance programs could be taken into consideration when applying for a visa or permanent residency. A person who the US Citizenship and Immigration Services deemed likely to need public assistance was considered a “public charge.”
As a result, many immigrant families who were eligible for support programs avoided using them in fear of the new rule. Impacts of the rule change were particularly pronounced in families that included at least one individual who was not a permanent resident. The chilling effect is further compounded by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, creating significant and preventable economic and health burdens for millions of immigrant families.
“Immigrants have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic caring for the sick, harvesting our nation’s food, and keeping businesses running. These public charge regulations have prevented immigrants from obtaining health care, food, and financial relief at a time when it’s needed most,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We commend President Biden for acting quickly to end this harmful policy, and urge Congress to deliver an immigrant-inclusive COVID-19 response that ensures immigrants have full access to relief as our nation begins to enter a recovery phase. There can be no just recovery without immigrants.” (Via an official release from the Food Research and Action Center.)
The Biden Administration’s action on public charge constitutes major progress in the fight to reverse the Trump Administration’s discriminatory rule. The review is a much-needed step in reversing the chilling effect and in ensuring immigrant families feel safe in accessing the resources we all deserve.
Kansas Appleseed is a member organization of the “Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future” (PIF) Campaign, which is made up of hundreds of diverse organizations. The PIF Campaign’s mission is to unite to advance, protect and defend access to health care, nutrition programs, public services and economic support for immigrants and their families at the local, state and federal level. For more info, visit: protectingimmigrantfamilies.org