The Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule, implemented under the previous administration, allows the U.S. government to deny a visa or citizenship to people who may need government benefits to support themselves and their families.
Commonly referred to as the Public Charge rule, it is just one of the immigration policies of the previous administration that the president has pledged to review and potentially overturn. He began that process last month with an executive order (EO) called “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.” It directs federal agencies to develop strategies that promote that inclusion for immigrants and would-be citizens.
Health insurance programs at the center of the rule
Two of the programs that the rule sought to exclude immigrants from accessing are Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These are the only way that many people can afford health care. Hospital organizations have applauded this EO. The general counsel of the American Hospital Association said, “We appreciate the administration’s review of this misguided policy and look forward to its reversal.”
The Public Charge rule, while aimed in part at keeping people out of the country, has also caused many immigrants to disenroll or not renew their membership in programs like Medicaid, CHIP and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) out of confusion about the rule and fear of deportation.
A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation said, “Even before the rule was finalized, there were reports of parents disenrolling themselves and their children from Medicaid and CHIP coverage, choosing not to renew coverage, or choosing not to enroll despite being eligible.”
Families no longer required to repay benefits
The elimination of the Public Charge rule and other immigration policies under review is not a foregone conclusion. However, one thing that the president was able to do immediately with his EO was rescind the prior administration’s EO that required families to repay the government if someone they sponsored had received public benefits.
There are likely to be other changes to immigration laws by this administration. While this is a hopeful time for many families, it can also be confusing. It’s important not to get ahead of these changes. If you or a loved one has an issue, it’s wise to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney.