Legal battles over the 'social burden' rule continue: what immigrants need to know to get benefits - ForumDaily
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Legal battles over the 'social burden' rule continue: what immigrants need to know when seeking benefits

Supreme Court Goes Into Fight For Immigrants Due To Public Charge, Informs THEHILL.

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On October 29, the Supreme Court agreed to rule on whether 14 states have the right to challenge President Biden's decision to overturn President Trump's order banning immigration for anyone who might end up on public assistance rolls, known as the Public Charge rule.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California ruled that the states had no legal capacity, but the decision was appealed and the High Court decided to weigh it. They will probably hear oral arguments later this month.

When the Biden Administration announced on March 9, 2021, that it would no longer enforce the Trump Administration's Public Charge rules, it stated that the rules were unfair to individuals who "have access to health care benefits and other government services available to them" and " are not in accordance with the values ​​of our nation."


The Public Charge provision states that “any alien who... at the time of applying for a visa or... at the time of applying for admission or adjustment of status is likely to become a Public Charge at any time. It is unacceptable".

This provision further states that in determining whether an alien is inadmissible because he is likely to become a social burden, consideration should be given to his (I) age; (II) health; (III) marital status; (iv) assets, resources and financial condition; (V) education and skills; and any affidavit of support—a contract that someone, usually a relative, signs, agreeing to support a prospective immigrant if he or she is unable to support himself.


Under previous DHS rules, which have been in effect since 1999, only cash government benefits a foreigner has or will receive were considered when determining the likelihood of becoming a Public Charge.

Non-monetary benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps were not included; Medicaid; or housing subsidies. The emphasis was on whether it would be "primarily dependent on the government for its existence."

On August 4, 2019, the Trump Administration published rules that added consideration of non-monetary benefits to "better ensure that aliens subject to the Public Charge rule are self-sufficient, that is, not dependent on government resources to meet their needs and rely on their own capabilities." as well as resources from family members, sponsors, and private organizations."

The regulations state that the term "Public Charge" means a person who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate during any 36-month period.

The decision must be based on the totality of the circumstances of the applicant's case.

Public Charge history

Public Charge provisions date back to the American colonial period, when several colonies adopted protective measures to prohibit the immigration of individuals who could drain public resources.

In the nineteenth century, east coast states such as New York and Massachusetts passed state laws that prohibited the immigration of an alien considered "a person unable to care for himself without being engaged in public service."

The Immigration Act of 1882 made the Public Charge provision federal law, using the same language used in state statutes.

Under the Immigration Act 1891, a federal immigration office was created to screen foreigners wishing to enter the United States.

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This made unacceptable "all idiots, madmen, persons who can become a Public Charge."

The Immigration Act of 1903 also made “paupers” inadmissible.

The Immigration Act of 1907 added language excluding potential immigrants who were "mentally or physically defective persons whose condition would affect the earn a living."

Definition of Public Charge

Since there is no specific definition of Public Charge in the law, judicial and administrative decisions have played an important role in defining this provision.

But these decisions left it primarily to the discretion of law enforcement agencies and their staff. Therefore, it seems likely that the courts will view the Trump administration's rulings as a legitimate and admissible interpretation of this provision.

On the other hand, the courts are not expected to find that the new president lacks the power to set his own guidelines.

The main change is the addition of consideration for non-cash benefits - and this is consistent with the history and development of the Public Charge provision, which reflects a reluctance to pay for services that immigrants need if they cannot support themselves.

And American taxpayers have to pay for the benefits that support these immigrants, whether they are cash or non-cash.

This is why affidavits of support will count towards determining Public Charge.

This shifts the burden of supporting the immigrant, who becomes Public Charge, from American taxpayers to the immigrant's family or to someone else who is willing to take on this responsibility.

The reluctance to cover such costs is also reflected in a lawsuit filed by Texas and 13 other states to prevent Biden from overturning the rules.

In it, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “Without the Public Charge rule, our costs for Medicaid and other vital services will increase dramatically and be too unreliable, costing taxpayers millions and reducing the quality of services we can provide.”

The Biden administration's failure to enforce Trump's rules gives Biden the impression that he is more concerned with the needs of immigrants than with the financial implications for taxpayers.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

Congress could reconsider this provision to provide more guidance on how it should be implemented, rather than leaving it up to those in the White House—or the unelected judges in our federal courts.

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