The Biden administration will pass new rules governing U.S. residency applications in December, a departure from strict Trump-era requirements that made it harder for low-income immigrants to become permanent residents, the Biden announced Thursday. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
A final DHS regulation which takes effect Dec. 23 will codify standards in place since the Clinton administration that dictate when immigrants can be considered a “public charge” or economic burden on the United States. Such a determination would prevent them from obtaining permanent residency or a green. map.
Under the rule, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will only consider green card applicants a public charge if they “are likely at any time to become primarily dependent on the government for their subsistence”.
This could be the case if they require long-term government-funded institutionalization or public cash benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The Biden administration rules represent a sea change from a Trump administration rule that upended Clinton standards by dramatically increasing the number and types of government benefits that could jeopardize an immigrant’s application to become a permanent resident of the United States.
The Trump-era rule — which went into effect in 2020 after the Supreme Court suspended lower court rulings declaring the policy illegal — included the use of housing stamps, food stamps and Medicaid in determinations of public charges. The settlement also created a new test that took into account applicants’ income, age, medical conditions, skills and family size to determine if they were likely to rely on these benefits in the future. .
The Trump administration has said its rule promotes self-sufficiency among immigrants. But immigrant advocates have denounced the policy as a draconian wealth test, pointing to the “chilling effectshe had about immigrant families, including those with U.S. citizen children, who feared accessing the benefits to which they were entitled.
Within two months of President Biden taking office, his administration stopped defending the 2019 public charge rule from lawsuits, allowing a federal court ruling to block the policy, which the Secretary of State said. Internal Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, “did not conform to the values of our nation”.
In February, the Biden administration released a draft of its own public office regulations, which received more than 10,000 public comments. The administration said Thursday that its regulations were designed to curb the “chilling effect” the Trump-era rule was having on mixed-status immigrant households.
“This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members,” Mayorkas said in a statement Thursday. “Consistent with America’s core values, we will not penalize individuals who choose to access health benefits and other additional government services available to them.”
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants apply for residency in the United States each year, most of them based on sponsorship applications from family members with US citizenship or employers. People who have been granted refugee or asylum status are also eligible to apply for green cards, although public charge rules do not apply to them.
In fiscal year 2021, USCIS received about 648,000 green card applications, according to government data. During the first half of fiscal year 2022, the agency checked in 280,000 new green card applications.
The public charge test was first codified in US law in the late 19th century, when the federal government began to regulate immigration, especially from non-European countries. During the same period, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, banning most immigrants from China for decades.
The 2019 public charge rule was part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to limit legal immigration. Under former President Donald Trump, the United States has reduced the number of refugee admissions to record lows,to ban immigrants who could not afford health care, and issued during the pandemic.
The Biden administration has reversed Trump’s immigration limits and dramatically increased the number of refugees. But he has struggled to rebuild refugee resettlement infrastructure and reform a legal immigration system crippled by bureaucratic delays, reliance on paper records and a growing backlog of unresolved cases.