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Mar 10, 2021

The End of the Public Charge Rule

Stephen Antwine

The Biden Administration announced it will no longer support or defend appellate challenges to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (“USCIS”) public charge rule. The public charge rule, previously announced by USCIS in 2019, states that a foreign national may be denied admission to the United States or adjustment of status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident if they have received government-issued public benefits such as cash or medical assistance.  The rule was clearly a thinly veiled attempt by the prior administration to deny immigration benefits to low-income individuals.

Yesterday, Biden’s Department of Justice dismissed two pending challenges to the implementation of the public charge rule in the Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A case pending in the Fourth Circuit is expected to be dismissed today. Over the last eighteen months, the public charge rule had been subject to legal challenges and had been enjoined and even vacated in several jurisdictions.  With the dismissal of these cases, the public charge rule’s conditions will no longer be implemented by USCIS.

In announcing the withdrawal of support, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, stated, “the 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values,” a reference to the prior administration’s anti-immigrant policies. Mayorkas continued stating that the elimination of the public charge rule is consistent with President Biden’s vision to reform and improve the legal immigration system in the United States.

In general, the public charge rule was ineffective and poorly reasoned policy. The rule was an obvious attempt to limit low-income individuals from immigrating to the United States, and effectively acted as a bar to admission for those who received any public benefits.  The public charge rule was also duplicative, as immigrants are already required to demonstrate that they have adequate means and are not likely to rely on the U.S. government for financial support. The end of the public charge rule effectively eliminates another impediment for individuals to lawfully immigrate to the United States.

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Stephen Antwine

Stephen Antwine



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