On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court removed the nationwide temporary injunction that had prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge immigration rule from taking effect. This means that the public charge rule that DHS finalized last August can go into effect nationwide, except in Illinois, where it is blocked by a statewide injunction. DHS has not yet announced a timeline for implementation, but we may see immediate decisions on individual status adjustment cases.
The Supreme Court’s decision endangers the health and well-being of older immigrants and their families and cruelly impedes the path to citizenship and family unification. However, it is not a final decision and we must continue to fight to stop this harmful policy from becoming permanent. The litigation challenging the underlying legality of the final public charge rule will continue. DHS has appealed all the district court decisions that issued preliminary injunctions to the Second, Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. DHS has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Justice in Aging and our partners have filed amicus briefs in the Second and Ninth Circuits to ask the court to affirm the district courts’ nationwide injunctions and to highlight the ways in which this rule unfairly targets older immigrants, their families, and caregivers.
We are working through the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign to mitigate the chilling effect of this decision and to document the harm from the public charge rule. Please use the talking points and resources below and share any examples of harm or stories through this google form.
Many immigrants are not directly affected by the public charge rule. DHS’s rule does not apply to all immigrants. Refugees, asylees, survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, other serious crimes, and other “humanitarian” immigrants are not affected. Lawful permanent residents (or “green card holders”) are not affected unless they leave the U.S. for over 180 days and seek to reenter. People who have already become U.S. citizens are not affected.
Use of public benefits will not automatically make someone a public charge. Immigration officials must look at all the circumstances in determining whether an individual is likely to become a public charge in the future. This includes age, health, income, assets, resources, education/skills, and family (both dependents and support). We recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before making any decisions about applying for or disenrolling from any benefits programs.
Many programs are not included in the public charge test. Medicare, including the Part D Low-Income Subsidy, is not included in the public charge test. Health, housing, nutrition, and other non-cash benefits provided by state and local governments, as well as WIC, CHIP, food banks, and shelters are also not included. The benefits that the new public charge rule considers are: Medicaid, including the Medicare Savings Programs; SSI, TANF and other cash benefits; SNAP; and certain housing benefits. However, most immigrants who could face a public charge test are not eligible for these programs.
Benefits used by family members will not count in public charge decisions made in the U.S. U.S. citizen family members are entitled to use the nutrition, food, or housing programs that help them thrive. For example, benefits received by children in a green card applicant’s household will not count against the applicant if the application is processed in the U.S.