Administration Releases New Rule on Public Charge Exclusions
By Heather Ham-Warren | September 28, 2018
Last week, after months of speculation, the Trump Administration finally published its highly anticipated proposed rule on public charge exclusions— reiterating the common sense notion that no immigrant should become a burden to the United States.
Despite receiving some backlash from the pro-illegal-alien media, public charge exclusions are nothing new. The first references to public charges appear in Massachusetts colonial statutes. Additionally, the very first comprehensive federal immigration law—enacted on August 3, 1882— included a bar against the admission of “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” For over a century, admissibility determinations were based on the alien’s prospective ability to earn a living in the United States.
In 1996, during sweeping reforms to both welfare and immigration policies, Congress reiterated the clear objective that aliens should be self-sufficient and not dependent on taxpayer assistance. Indeed, Congress felt so strongly about this principle of self-sufficiency that it even called it “a compelling government interest to enact new rules for eligibility and sponsorship agreements in order to assure that aliens be self-reliant in accordance with national immigration policy.”
A few short years later, the Clinton Administration eviscerated the original congressional intent and administratively redefined public charge in very narrow terms. In subverting the legislative branch, this 1999 guidance allowed both legal and illegal aliens to obtain eligibility for most types of welfare benefits— a burden American taxpayers still shoulder to this day.
Finally, nearly twenty years later, the administrative branch is once again redefining what it means to be a public charge. This time, however, the newly published rule merely restores the definition and implementation of the public charge exclusions by conforming it to the underlying federal statute and rule of law.
Opponents of this administration (and thus by extension, this rule) argue that only a handful of immigrants utilize public assistance programs. That these are rare, temporary, or insignificant instances. But that is simply not true.
According to a report released by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the reality is that over half of all immigrant-led households currently use at least one welfare program. This is compared to only thirty percent of native households. The same CIS report demonstrates that welfare use is high for both new and well-established immigrants. In fact, of households headed by immigrants who have been in the country for more than two decades, forty-eight percent access at least one welfare program. Finally, according to data from Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), by the year 2030, 7.5 million immigrants will be enrolled in Medicaid.
This proposed rule is common sense. Immigrants are supposed to be a benefit, not a hardship, to the United States. Additionally, welfare programs are meant to serve the most vulnerable of Americans as stopgap measures to assist them during their times of need. At a time when the American welfare system is already overburdened and over extended, this proposed rule remains in line with President Trump’s campaign promise to put Americans first. The campaign promise for which the majority of Americans voted.