CSAC Bulletin Article

Public Charge Rule Reversed

March 18, 2021

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially announced the reversal of the controversial 2019 public charge final rule. The rule expanded the definition of public charge to require consideration of current or potential receipt of non-cash benefits, including Medicaid/Medi-Cal, SNAP/CalFresh, and federally subsidized housing when determining whether to extend or revise a legal immigrant’s status.

CSAC submitted comments opposing the rule change along with numerous counties and organizations across the country when the rule change was proposed in 2018. CSAC and county affiliates indicated that this rule will lead to legal immigrant families not accessing federal benefits for which they are eligible, especially for non-immigrant/citizen children who may be eligible for health and nutritional supports. Concerns expressed to DHS were overwhelmingly not addressed in the official final rule and legal challenges following the rule change.

The rule reversal that came this week occurred subsequent to President Biden directing DHS to review the public charge decision through an executive order on February 2, 2021. The review determined the public charge changes and defending legal challenges did not benefit the public or the department resources. The guidance will return to the 1999 field guidance that does not consider receipt of non-cash benefits when determining legal immigrant’s status.

The California Health and Human Services Agency issued an All County Letter that provides guidance on the public charge rule. Updates to the public charge rule can be found on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

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