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Supreme Court Ruling on the Public Charge Rule

On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a proposed public charge regulation (a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period. On August 14, 2019, after completing its review of the more than 260,000 public comments submitted, DHS published a final regulation that departed only slightly from the proposed version.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the nationwide injunction on public charge, making a pathway for the rule to be implemented. This injunction was the last of three that had been blocking implementation. This means that the public charge rule is allowed to go into effect as litigation on the rule continues. The Department of Homeland Security has not yet announced a timeline for implementation; however, USCIS officers may begin implementing the rule for current cases. Litigation from appellate cases will continue and decisions could be announced within a couple of months.

The rule marks a significant and harmful change that would fundamentally alter the immigration system, making it much harder for low- and moderate- income immigrants to obtain lawful permanent resident status (become a “green card holder”). It also will make immigrants more fearful of receiving critical supports like health care and nutrition programs that help working families thrive and remain productive.

Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) has updated resources available and encourages the following messages with concerned community members:  

  1. Many immigrants will not be affected.
  2. The use of public benefits does not automatically make you a public charge.
  3. Many benefits are not included in the public charge test, such Medicaid used by children and pregnant women, CHIP, WIC, and more.
  4. Benefits used by family members do not count in public charge determinations for immigrants applying in the U.S. However, rules currently differ for applicants from outside of the U.S. In these cases, benefits used by family members may be considered.
  5. Free or low-cost legal services are available.

More information is available on PIF's Public Charge Analysis and FAQ.

CCHN staff will continue to share updates as the decision moves through the courts.