American ‘Values’ and the Public Charge Law



The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it has “closed the book” on the Trump administration’s public charge rule for immigrants. This is hardly an open-and-shut case.

Breaking with the spirit, if not the letter, of longstanding U.S. immigration law, DHS, citing flimsy “interim field guidance” from 1999, said it “will not consider a person’s receipt of Medicaid, public housing or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.”

For nearly 140 years, U.S. law has authorized immigration agents to bar admission of foreign nationals who are “likely at any time to become a public charge.” The prohibition remains applicable to individuals requesting visas to visit the United States and to foreign nationals seeking to obtain green cards.

Calling the Biden administration’s move a “reckless violation of federal law,” 11 states are challenging it in court. Their attorneys general, all Republicans, argue that increasing the number of illegal and legal immigrants who can enroll in Medicaid and other publicly financed programs will cost taxpayers roughly $1 billion and create “another national crisis.”

The billion-dollar price tag is just for starters. FAIR estimates that combined with Biden’s amnesty plans and subsequent family chain migration that could entitle as many as 52 million more immigrants to qualify for green cards, the cost of eliminating the 2019 public charge rule could run into the tens of trillions of dollars nationally.

Dismissing established law and ignoring fiscal reality, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas blandly asserted that the Trump public charge rule “was not in keeping with our nation’s values.”

The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t see it that way when it upheld the 2019 rule last year. The high court later affirmed its decision amid more lower-court wrangling.

Mayorkas has yet to convince litigators from Alabama, Arizona Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia that he has a legal leg to stand on. All Americans and every state – even the blue ones — have a stake in the outcome.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.