Biden walks back Trump rule barring residency for immigrants eligible for aid
Biden walks back Trump rule barring residency for immigrants eligible for aid

By Anna Giaritelli, Homeland Security Reporter

The Biden administration is set to walk back Trump administration rules limiting immigrants’ eligibility to obtain permanent residency if they are eligible for government benefits.

The Department of Health Services will submit a new “public charge” rule in the coming days, outlining its plan to reverse the Trump administration ban on those who would rely on government assistance. However, the outlined changes made by the Biden administration will still allow immigrants to be judged to a lesser extent based on their dependence on select welfare programs.

“Under this proposed rule, we will return to the historical understanding of the term ‘public charge’ and individuals will not be penalized for choosing to access the health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

The Trump administration in 2019 proposed a plan to update the public charge rule to block immigrants who apply for green cards if they may rely on federal assistance and would be a “public charge” to the government.

Under the Biden administration’s forthcoming rule proposal, the government would not deny a person admission if they have received noncash benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, most Medicaid benefits, housing benefits, and transportation vouchers.

A person’s reliance on Supplemental Security Income; cash assistance for income maintenance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; state, tribal, territorial, and local cash assistance for income maintenance; and long-term institutionalization at government expense would determine if someone is deemed a public charge and therefore ineligible to enter the United States.

DHS would also redefine a person considered a public charge from “likely at any time to become a public charge” to “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”

Overhauling the public charge rule requires DHS to submit a notice in the Federal Register of plans to change or rescind the rule, then two months of public comments, months of finalizing the proposed rule, and months of regulatory processes.

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