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KEJC Applauds Biden Administration’s Decision to Drop Trump-Era Public Charge Regulations

Supreme Court of the United States (Anthony Quintano)

The Biden administration filed an agreement before the Supreme Court on Tuesday to stop defending Trump-era “public charge” regulations that limited access to green cards for people deemed likely to utilize public assistance programs.

That means that the Trump administration’s “public charge” policy is now permanently blocked — nationwide.

This is huge cause for celebration. The “public charge” rule targeted low-income immigrants and their families, and kept millions of hungry and houseless people from applying for the public benefits specifically designed to help people like them.

We applaud the Biden administration’s decision to end the Trump administration’s racist and dangerous policy.

“The end of the Trump-era public charge rule is momentous,” said KEJC Outreach Coordinator Miranda Brown. “It means less confusion and fear for immigrant families in the U.S. It means less complications when we help and advise our clients. We urge the Biden administration to communicate to immigrants that it's safe to access health and nutrition programs without fear of immigration consequences: our challenge now is to spread the word so immigrants know they're no longer subject to this rule.”

Now in effect: the long-standing 1999 “field guidance” that makes it safe for immigrants to access public assistance programs.

We urge all immigrants to get the help they need. As an immigrant, it’s now safe to access health, nutrition, and housing programs that you qualify for.

It’s also safe to get COVID-19 testing, care, and vaccinations: it won’t compromise your immigration status, or your future immigration applications.

We urge every federal agency to leverage every communication channel they can to get that message to immigrant families across the nation. The Department of Homeland and Security and the State Department should also move as quickly as possible to reverse the policy by regulation.

There’s still work ahead, and the Biden administration still needs to take additional actions to undo harm.

But this is a turning point in the fight against policies like the “public charge” regulations, and an opportunity to improve our response to the pandemic, mitigate the health and economic disparities of COVID-19, and build a healthier, more prosperous future for all.

Read on for some Frequently Asked Questions now that “public charge” regulations are blocked nationwide.

Olivia Hernandez and Cesar Trevino with outreach specialist (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The Biden Administration has taken action to end the Trump public charge policy.

  • Now that federal courts have dismissed the government’s appeals, the Trump public charge policy is no longer in effect.

  • The long-standing 1999 “field guidance” will apply effectively immediately, making it safe for immigrants and their families to use health, nutrition, and housing programs they qualify for.

  • It’s safe and smart to see the doctor if you need care, or if you’re worried that you may be sick.

    • Your doctor is required to honor your right to privacy.

    • You do not need to share any information about your immigration status unless you apply for Medicaid or other health coverage for yourself.

    • You can still see a doctor without medical insurance.

    • This includes care you receive in the emergency room, at community and migrant health centers, free clinics, and public hospitals.

    • The public charge test only applies to some programs and some immigrants.

    • It never applies to U.S. citizens, including the children of immigrants.

    • It doesn’t apply to people with a green card either, or asylees, refugees, or special domestic violence survivor visas.

    • A family member’s use of public programs cannot affect your future immigration applications.

    • Testing, treatment, and preventative services for COVID-19 — including vaccines — are not part of public charge. Pandemic relief payment (stimulus checks) are also not part of public charge.

    • The use of health, nutrition, and housing programs cannot be considered in the public charge test.

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