WASHINGTON — A new “public charge” regulation that takes effect today adds critical protections to secure immigrant families’ access to the health and social services safety net. Since finalizing the regulation in September, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been preparing forms and guidance to implement the new policy. Applications for permanent residence (“a green card”) filed today or afterward will be processed under the new policy.
The Biden regulation largely restores the public charge policy in place for 20 years prior to the Trump administration. The Biden regulation also makes an improvement sought by more than 1,000 organizations coordinated by the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition (PIF): making it crystal clear that DHS will not consider use of health care, nutrition, or housing programs when making immigration decisions.
The Trump public charge regulation was widely cited as amplifying the pandemic’s impact on families of color and undermining pandemic response. Research by the nonpartisan Urban Institute and others confirms that the Trump policy’s “chilling effect” causes immigrants and their families to avoid accessing health care, nutrition and other programs and continues to undermine pandemic recovery and equity. Reacting to the effective date, the PIF coalition issued the following statement by its director, Adriana Cadena:
“The Biden public charge regulation is a major win for immigrant families. It clarifies what is and is not considered in a public charge determination, providing assurances that eligible immigrant families can use health care, nutrition, and housing programs without public charge concerns. We know that anti-immigrant politicians will attack this reform through partisan litigation, but there are solid grounds for a court to uphold the rule.”