NYLPI’s Statement on Biden Administration’s Changes to Public Charge Rule

September 19, 2022

Coverage4All, Disability Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, News

Image of protestors holding signs saying "Immigrants make America Great"

The Biden administration has finalized changes to the Public Charge Rule, undoing the prior administration’s harmful expansion that deterred immigrant families from accessing healthcare and other necessary public benefits out of fear of negative immigration consequences. While the rule still has the potential to negatively impact immigrant communities and NYLPI’s clients, it is an improvement. The new rule will go into effect in December of 2022. The “Public Charge” rule is a way for the U.S. government to deny a person’s entry into the United States or to deny people certain types of immigration status if the government believes they will become primarily reliant on government assistance. Informed by our clients’ experiences, NYLPI provided comments to the Biden administration with specific recommendations to remove health status from this determination, as it could deter people from receiving necessary and life-saving healthcare. Through our work we have documented the life-changing effect access to public benefits has on the lives of immigrants, and advocate for accessible healthcare for all people, regardless of immigration status, age, disability or employment status.

NYLPI’s position has been, first and foremost, that the Public Charge rule should not exist because it can unfairly discriminate against immigrants with serious health needs and people with disabilities. NYLPI has seen clients make the gut-wrenching decision to forgo public benefits for fear that not doing so will destroy their hope to someday become citizens of the United States. NYLPI provides direct legal representation and healthcare advocacy to connect seriously ill immigrant New Yorkers to healthcare, and our Disability Justice program advocates for equality of opportunity, self-determination, and independence for people with disabilities. While the Public Charge rule continues to exist, its most recent iteration is an improvement, as immigrants that are considered refugees and survivors of crime and trafficking are exempt from this assessment and a person’s family members are no longer deterred from accessing the benefits they may need. Of concern, the Department of Homeland Security has not yet issued guidance on how the government will assess factors like age, health, and education in the Public Charge determination. Continued usage of these factors may unfairly privilege healthy, able-bodied, and neurotypical persons over persons with chronic health conditions or disabilities — all of whom contribute positively to their communities in the U.S.

NYLPI will continue to advocate for accessible healthcare for all people and a version of this rule that better aligns with the needs of our clients and immigrant communities.

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