On Tuesday, the Biden administration stopped the enforcement of the “public charge” restrictions on green cards. These restrictions were put in place by the Trump administration and were at the heart of his immigration policies.
Early on Tuesday, the Justice Department notified courts across the nation as well as the Supreme Court that it would not defend the public charge regulation that was passed by the administration of the former president.
This policy had faced condemnation by advocates as it gave U.S. official’s greater powers to discriminate against immigrants who relied on or were at the risk of relying on public benefits including food stamps, health and other government services.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that Clinton era rules would be enforced. They directed officials to call immigrants public charges only if they receive government cash benefits or if they were in long term institutionalized care.
In the early 1880s, the term public charge was included when the federal government regulated immigrants, mainly Chinese, under the pretext that they “endangered the good order” of other American communities.
The Trump administration took these regulations further by using economic vulnerabilities to classify immigrants as burdens unless they were self-sufficient. Advocates said that it was as if there was a wealth test to deter low income groups from applying for immigration.
The Urban Institute published a report last month that stated that 13% of immigrants did not access government aid in 2020 as they were afraid of endangering their immigration cases.
New York Attorney General, one of the many who had challenged this economically discriminatory immigration rule from the Trump administration, said that the recent ruling from the Justice Department ensured that fewer children would go hungry and a larger number of families would receive the medical care that they desperately need.
While praising Tuesday’s actions, Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy urged the Biden administration to formally rescind the 2019 rule. The director also said that public awareness about the reversal of the policy should be created so that immigrants would rest assured that they could “safely get the care and help they need.”
Image Credit Joe Biden