Dec 18, 2023


WASHINGTON The Biden Administration’s “public charge” regulation took effect on December 23, 2022. Advocates celebrated the regulation as a major win for immigrant families, citing its potential to thaw the “chilling effect” that has deterred millions in immigrant families from seeking health care and social services. That effect was generated by Trump Administration regulations that put green card applications at risk if immigrants who qualify for Medicaid, “SNAP” food aid, and “Section 8” housing assistance used those programs.

A year after the Biden regulation’s effective date, the most recent analysis by the nonpartisan Urban Institute shows that the chilling effect remains a barrier, with 25% of people in mixed-status families avoiding health care and social service programs because of immigration concerns. That is largely unchanged from the chilling effect’s reach at the end of the Trump Administration, showing that the Biden Administration has largely failed to communicate the policy change to the people who need to know about it.

Reacting to the effective date anniversary, the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition released the following statement from its director, Adriana Cadena:

“The Biden public charge regulation could have dramatically improved immigrant families’ access to health care and social services, but it simply hasn’t done that. The Administration has failed to mitigate the concerns generated by the Trump public charge policy, and immigrant families continue to avoid programs designed to provide the help they desperately need. The Administration knows how to do better – during the pandemic they partnered with nonprofits to lower barriers to COVID-19 testing and vaccination in immigrant communities. To reach its own equity goals, the Biden Administration must commit real resources to outreach to immigrant families.”