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57 Members of Congress Urge Biden to Reverse Public Charge Rule

January 27, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC — On Monday, 57 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), sent a letter to President-Elect Biden urging him to issue an Executive Order directing federal agencies to rescind the public charge rule within his first few days in office. The rule promulgated by President Trump penalizes immigrant communities who legally access non-cash benefits such as Medicaid, housing assistance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which has led to immigrants avoiding doctors’ visits and experiencing worse health outcomes right as America struggles with an historic pandemic.

“Even before it was finalized, the public charge rule had already inspired fear in immigrant communities. In fact, the text of the proposed regulation released by DHS bluntly stated that this policy change could result in ‘worse outcomes, including increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, or children, and reduced prescription adherence’, ‘increased rates of poverty and housing instability’, and ‘increased use of emergency rooms and emergent care as a method of primary health care due to delayed treatment.’ Over 250,000 public comments were sent to DHS on the proposed rule, the vast majority opposing implementation,” wrote the Members.

“Since its announcement, the rule has caused individuals to disenroll from public benefits for fear of jeopardizing their immigration status and put children and families at greater risk for poor health outcomes and living in poverty,” continued the Members in the letter. “Now more than ever before, it is vital that we ensure that individuals feel safe getting tested, seeking treatment, and getting vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition, people of color have higher rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths. Additionally, the pandemic has shown us that immigrants play a vital role as frontline workers as healthcare workers, food suppliers and care providers. The public charge rule acts as a wealth test even though we know our economy cannot thrive without immigrants. We must work to rebuild their trust in the federal government so that everyone can receive the vaccine, testing, and treatment, and our communities can recover quickly.”

The letter is signed by Reps. Judy Chu, Gwen Moore, Adriano Espaillat, Danny K. Davis, Albio Sires, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Tony Cárdenas, James P. McGovern, Nydia M. Velázquez, Ed Case, Rosa L. DeLauro, Alan Lowenthal, Jerry McNerney, Grace F. Napolitano, Joaquin Castro, Yvette D. Clarke, Jimmy Gomez, Betty McCollum, Val B. Demings, Carolyn B. Maloney, Chellie Pingree, Peter Welch, Mark Takano, Barbara Lee, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Mark Pocan, Earl Blumenauer, Ro Khanna, David Trone, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith, Paul D. Tonko, Scott Peters, Bennie G. Thompson, Jan Schakowsky, Linda T. Sánchez, Alcee L. Hastings, Sean Casten, Frank Pallone, Jr., Anna G. Eshoo, Jahana Hayes, Ted W. Lieu, Seth Moulton, Ilhan Omar, Norma J. Torres, Jamie Raskin, Mike Thompson, Derek Kilmer, Pete Aguilar, Jason Crow, David E. Price, Mark DeSaulnier, Raúl M. Grijalva, Debbie Dingell, Jerrold Nadler, and Zoe Lofgren.  

It is available online here and below.


January 11, 2021

 

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President-Elect of the United States

1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

 

Dear President-Elect Biden,

We write to urge you to rescind the public charge rule, which makes it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards or adjust their status if they use certain public benefits. In 2019, the Trump Administration finalized regulations that would expand the definition of “public charge” to include non-cash benefits such as Medicaid, housing assistance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While the regulation was immediately challenged and litigation is ongoing, the Supreme Court ruled on January 27, 2020 to lift the nationwide preliminary injunction and implementation of the rule began on February 24, 2020. This rule went into effect just weeks before a once-in-a-generation pandemic devastated the health and economic security of communities all across the country, leaving countless immigrant families without access to resources they have paid into. As the United States continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we urge you to issue an Executive Order directing the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to rescind the public charge rule.

Even before it was finalized, the public charge rule had already inspired fear in immigrant communities. In fact, the text of the proposed regulation released by DHS bluntly stated that this policy change could result in “worse outcomes, including increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, or children, and reduced prescription adherence”, “increased rates of poverty and housing instability”, and "increased use of emergency rooms and emergent care as a method of primary health care due to delayed treatment.” Over 250,000 public comments were sent to DHS on the proposed rule, the vast majority opposing implementation.

Since its announcement, the rule has caused individuals to disenroll from public benefits for fear of jeopardizing their immigration status and put children and families at greater risk for poor health outcomes and living in poverty. Now more than ever before, it is vital that we ensure that individuals feel safe getting tested, seeking treatment, and getting vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition, people of color have higher rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths. Additionally, the pandemic has shown us that immigrants play a vital role as frontline workers as healthcare workers, food suppliers and care providers. The public charge rule acts as a wealth test even though we know our economy cannot thrive without immigrants. We must work to rebuild their trust in the federal government so that everyone can receive the vaccine, testing, and treatment, and our communities can recover quickly.

We appreciate your commitment to reversing the public charge rule and understand that it could be a lengthy process to reverse the policy. For that reason, we urge you to issue an Executive Order in your first few days in office to ensure that immigrants and their families know that they do not have to worry about seeking treatment, getting the vaccine, or availing themselves of other public benefits to make ends meet while the regulatory process is underway to reverse the rule. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,