President Joe Biden’s administration is proposing a rule that would make it easier for immigrants to get green cards.
The rule, if implemented as proposed, would narrow the types of public benefits U.S. authorities consider when mulling whether to grant applications for permanent residency.
Under President Donald Trump, the types of benefits that could harm applicants was expanded in an effort to make sure green cards were only doled out to immigrants who would not become reliant on welfare programs, aligning with historical treatment of immigrants.
After Biden took office in 2021, though, officials rescinded the expanded “public charge” rule.
They’re now seeking to formalize the current guidance, which is similar to that in place during the Clinton era.
“The 2019 public charge rule was not consistent with our nation’s values,” Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a Biden nominee, said in a statement. “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.”
Under the proposal, immigrants could receive benefits from multiple programs without the help weighing against their efforts to get green cards.
That includes Section 8 housing or rental assistance, food stamps, and most Medicaid benefits.
The only benefits that could be considered by U.S. officers adjudicating applications would be Supplemental Security Income, cash assistance for “income maintenance” under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or through state or local programs, and being kept at an institution for a long term at government expense.
Members of the public can submit comments on the proposed rule for 60 days.
Eddie Carmona, campaigns director for the National Immigration Law Center, said the proposal “is an important step toward addressing significant racial and economic disparities in immigrant communities that the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened” but faulted the administration for not carving out all state and local program assistance for immigrants seeking green cards.
Stephen Miller, who helped craft immigration policy during the Trump administration, said on Twitter that the rule was a “message to the world: get into USA, get free federal healthcare & welfare for life.”
Robert Law of the Center for Immigration Studies, meanwhile, interpreted the proposal as an effort to formalize the current guidelines with the aim of preventing future Republican administrations from redefining the term “public charge.”