Asian American Civil Rights Groups Release Statement on Biden Administration Final Rule on Public Charge

Final Rule Restores Decades-Old Definitions, Rolls Back Harmful Trump-era Rule
For Immediate Release
Vivin Qiang 202-780-9327
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last Friday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule on “public charge,” which will go into effect on December 23, 2022.

This final rule addresses longstanding concerns about broad changes to the public charge definition in the last administration, and makes it clear that only the use of specific benefits (Supplemental Security Income (SSI); cash assistance for income maintenance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); State, Tribal, territorial, or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance, sometimes called “General Assistance”; or long-term institutionalization at government expense will have an effect on applications to enter the country or receive a green card. Use of other, non-cash benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other nutrition programs, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid (other than for long-term institutionalization), housing benefits, any benefits related to immunizations or testing for communicable diseases, and more will not be considered.

Previous changes to the public charge rule created widespread fear about the possible negative immigration consequences of seeking public benefits. This rule helps clarify that our communities can seek help from necessary programs like health, nutrition, and housing programs without fear.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California who are members of an affiliation of five independent civil rights organizations, release the following statement:

“The previous ‘public charge’ rule was cruel by design. It was not only meant to favor white and wealthy immigrants applying for admission or a green card, but also aimed to create fear and confusion about the use of critical, life-saving programs within low-income communities of color. Tragically, the issuance of the last rule caused many immigrants of color, including Asian Americans, to withdraw from health care, nutrition programs, housing services, and other benefits.

This new final rule, by contrast, seeks to simplify the public charge test, to minimize misunderstandings about the scope of the rule and make it clear what benefits usage may affect immigration status. Advancing Justice is thankful that our advocacy, and that of our communities and allies, has contributed to this reversal in policy. Asian Americans Advancing Justice will continue to advocate for an immigration system that does not penalize the use of needed public benefits.”

Immigrants concerned about how the new public charge rule will affect them or their loved ones should seek advice from an authorized immigration attorney or accredited legal representative.