Trump Rules Overturned by Biden Regulation Offering Health, Social Services to Immigrants


AP Photo/ Susan Walsh

By The Vanguard Staff

WASHINGTON, DC – Critical protections for immigrant access to the health and social services safety net, including housing, were approved Thursday here, and while, said supporters, “the final regulation largely restores and improves upon the public charge policy in place for 20 years prior to the Trump administration, it also makes improvements.”

The National Housing Law Project and the hundreds of other organizations coordinated by the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition (PIF) praised the new “public charge” regulation finalized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“A person’s home should never be used as a weapon against them,” said Kate Walz, associate director of litigation at the National Housing Law Project. “We stand with the PIF coalition in celebrating today that we are back on track with a common-sense regulation that recognizes housing as a basic human need.”

Walz added, “The final Biden public charge regulation is a major win for immigrant families and for our commitment to racial equity. This new rule makes clear that immigrant families can access health, nutrition, and housing assistance without fear of public charge concerns.”

NHLP explained, “Research confirms the now-reversed Trump public charge regulations and their widespread ‘chilling effect’ deterred millions in immigrant families from seeking health care and aid during the pandemic, undermining pandemic response and widening racial disparities in its economic and health impact,” adding that until now the Trump policy continued to “drive lower COVID-19 vaccination rates, food insecurity, and other disparities among immigrants of color.”

“The more than 600 members of the PIF coalition are emboldened in our broader fight to repeal racist provisions in immigration law that discriminate against low-income people of color. Congress must strike public charge from the law and eliminate other barriers to the health and social services safety net. We will continue to push our leaders for action,” said Walz.

NHLP said, in a statement, “The public charge regulation issued by the Trump DHS took effect just weeks before COVID-19 hit the United States. When the Biden Administration reversed the Trump policy in March 2021, it reverted to guidance in effect from 1999 through February 2020. The regulation issued today formally replaces that guidance. Regulations are harder to change than informal guidance, so the issuance of final public charge regulations protects against radical changes by future presidential administrations.”

NHLP said the final regulation clarifies “A child’s or other family member’s use of federal safety net programs never affects the applicant’s immigration application,” “SNAP, WIC, the Child Tax Credit, Section 8, and other “non-cash” federal programs (and state- and locally-funded versions of those programs) never affect immigration applications…DHS will not consider use of health care programs (like Medicaid, CHIP and the marketplace) by eligible immigrants and their family members.”

NHLP added, “DHS can consider long-term institutional care paid for by Medicaid (short term rehabilitation or community-based services will not be considered), and cash assistance for income maintenance such as SSI, TANF, and state, local and tribal cash assistance.”

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