One of the bigger changes the Biden Administration has made in immigration policy is the decision last week to not defend the Trump Administration’s 2019 Public Charge rule. The rule required that applicants for certain immigration benefits prove that they are not likely to become a public charge. While that sounds innocent enough, the new rule required immigrant applicants to provide all sorts of new documentation with their applications, including banking records, credit reports, extensive employment information, health care data, and so on. The administrative burden was something akin to a business tax audit. The requirement had the potential to make slow down the immigration system like a hostile computer server hack. The rule was legally flawed, and had sustained litigation challenges, and was to be enjoined. However, the Trump Administration appealed to the Supreme Court, which was willing to hear the case. With the Biden Administration’s withdrawal, USCIS will now not be requiring applicants to submit the burdensome I-944 form, at least for now. I expect those in favor of the rule will sue in Court in an effort to maintain and enforce the rule in part or in whole. It is an ongoing saga, but those like us who have to help folks become permanent residents are happy with this outcome.
Here is DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ statement:
DHS Secretary Statement on the 2019 Public Charge Rule
Release Date 03/09/2021
Today, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the government will no longer defend the 2019 public charge rule as doing so is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.
“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Consistent with the President’s vision, we will continue to implement reforms that improve our legal immigration system.”
President Biden’s Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans called for an immediate review of agency actions on public charge inadmissibility and deportability. DHS’s review, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and State and the federal benefits-granting agencies, is ongoing.
As discussed in DHS’s litigation statement, and consistent with the government’s decision not to defend the rule, the Department of Justice is no longer pursuing appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining enforcement of the 2019 public charge rule. Today, the Department of Justice dismissed its pending appeals in the Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit, and is in the process of doing so in the Fourth Circuit. Following the Seventh Circuit dismissal this afternoon, the final judgment from the Northern District of Illinois, which vacated the 2019 public charge rule, went into effect. As a result, the 1999 interim field guidance on the public charge inadmissibility provision (i.e., the policy that was in place before the 2019 public charge rule) is now in effect. Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/10/2021