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Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule Punishes Immigrants Who Accessed Health Care and Other Basic Support

WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden signed executive actions to bring critical and long-overdue reforms to the immigration system. Included in these actions is beginning the process to end the so-called “public charge” rule — which forces many immigrants and their children to make the impossible choice between accessing health care and other lifesaving services or risking their status and their safety — and creating a task force charged with reuniting migrant families separated at the border. These actions are a critical continuation of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to end the dehumanization and xenophobia that became central tenets of the Trump administration’s immigation policy. 

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“At Planned Parenthood, we know families belong together, health care has no borders, and no one’s health or safety should be at risk because of their immigration status. Today’s actions from the Biden-Harris administration are a critical step toward restoring humanity to our immigration system and ending the horror of the last four years. We look forward to working alongside the administration and Congress to protect and boldly expand health care access and rights to all people in the U.S. and across the globe.” 

Under the “public charge” rule, people can be denied entry into the U.S. or an adjustment in their immigration status (i.e. obtaining a green card), simply because they have received certain public benefits in the past — including health care, nutrition assistance, and public housing — or were judged likely to use benefits in the future. It is designed to keep families separated, and to scare immigrants already in the U.S. and their families from accessing health care and other basic needs, including those to which they are legally entitled. The public charge rule cannot be stopped immediately, as the administration must go through the full regulatory process to roll it back, but it is starting the process while working to address its chilling effect and direct agencies to encourage immigrants and their families to use critical public benefits. 

The Trump administration separated more than 5,500 children from their families and ultimately deported 1,400 parents without their children. While the Biden-Harris administration formally ended the policy that allowed these horrors last week, the new task force has a critical mission: More than 600 separated parents have yet to be reached — and still more have been found but not reunited with their children. 

Beyond ending the public charge rule and reuniting families, there is an incredible amount of other work ahead. Along with a coalition of more than 100 bold, progressive organizations, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda developed “First Priorities for the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice,” a detailed list of executive and agency actions on global and domestic priorities, including ending the “public charge” rule. PPFA expects the Biden-Harris administration to continue swiftly addressing these priorities.  


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.