San Francisco, CA — On March 9, 2021 Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) joined more than 500 immigrant rights organizations nationwide in celebrating the U.S. Department of Justice decision to end its defense of the public charge expansions introduced by the Trump Administration. The dismissal of pending appeals means that a November 3, 2020 lower court ruling which blocked the proposed expansion will continue to stand, and the Department of Homeland Security and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will return to 1999 public charge guidelines, effective immediately. This decision comes just a few short weeks after President Biden directed the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive review of immigration policies, including the public charge rule.

Since 2017, immigrant rights advocates and directly impacted families have been fighting against the expansion of the rules governing public charge. The new regulations, which increased the range of the public benefits considered in the public charge test, stoked fear among immigrant families. Many families, afraid of compromising their chances to apply for lawful permanent residency, chose not to access life-saving public benefits for which they qualified. Trump’s expansion of “public charge”, which functioned as a “wealth test” for green card applicants, exacerbated the disproportionate impact of the policy on low-income immigrants and immigrants of color.

“It is a community victory for many of us, who have tracked and fought against the policy since Trump first threatened to expand the rules in 2017. It is imperative that immigrant families should be able to access health care without worrying about their immigration status or future immigration repercussions, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Community members should be allowed the right to seek medical treatment and preventative care for COVID-19, including vaccinations, without fear of being considered a public charge.”

Jose Ng, Immigrant Rights Program Manager at Chinese for Affirmative Action

CAA has invariably committed to defend immigrant families and will continue to advocate for pro-immigrant and inclusive policies. Community members who have questions about their specific situations are encouraged to contact CAA’s Immigrant Rights program at 415-761-3222 for general inquiries and legal referrals.