House Member Introduces Bill to Codify Trump Public Charge Rule
Under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a regulation that would have required immigrants seeking to enter the United States or adjust to permanent status to be self-sufficient. This regulation, consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is known as the Public Charge rule. The Trump rule clearly established which benefits would be considered in decisions and laid out the level of dependency at which an individual was deemed likely to be a public charge, and thus inadmissible. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s rule was challenged in the courts and vacated.
After failing to defend the Trump public charge rule, the Biden Administration published its own regulation. The Biden regulation went into effect last December and defines public charge as someone that is likely “to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” It only allows officers to consider cash benefits and long-term institutionalization rather than taking into consideration other public benefits, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and various housing vouchers. As written, the Biden public charge rule undermines the intent of the law, ignoring the need to consider various factors listed in the INA, including age, health, education, skills, and financial resources.
Last week, Congressman Bob Good (R-Va.) introduced the Preserving Safety Net Integrity Act of 2023. The bill would repeal President Biden’s public charge rule and codify the Trump Administration’s rule. Putting in place the Trump rule would ensure that intending immigrants can provide for themselves rather than relying on taxpayer-funded public benefits.
Public charge restrictions for immigrants have been part of U.S. immigration policy for more than a century, and self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes. Rather than respecting that history and deterring immigrants from seeking taxpayer funded benefits, the Biden Administration is allowing people to gain permanent status despite receiving public benefits. With American taxpayers already facing net annual costs from illegal immigration of over $150 billion dollars, the Biden Administration should be ensuring that public benefits are available for vulnerable Americans, not incentivizing their use by foreign nationals.
In addition to supporting Congressman Good’s legislation, FAIR also supports a Congressional Review Act joint resolution from Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) to overturn the Biden public charge rule. That resolution passed the Senate on May 17 by a vote of 50-47, with two Democrats voting with all but one Republican. In the coming months, FAIR will continue to support efforts to overturn the weak and ineffective Biden rule and instead encourage public charge requirements that protect American taxpayers and ensure the self-sufficiency of immigrants.