Washington, D.C. — Today, the Biden-Harris administration finalized a new “public charge” rule, officially changing the inhumane and xenophobic policy that forced immigrants and their families to choose between their immigration status and sometimes lifesaving resources. The Trump administration expanded the previous “public charge” rule, which denied immigrants entry to the United States or an adjustment to their immigration status if they received, or were expected to receive, public benefits. The rule from the previous administration added health care, nutrition assistance, and public housing as types of benefits that would penalize immigration applications. The new Biden administration rule explicitly confirms these programs will not be considered for public charge determinations and clarifies pre-existing guidance to ensure that immigrants can access health care using their health insurance, including Medicaid, as well as access other critical resources.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“The Trump administration’s public charge rule was a xenophobic policy that unfairly targeted immigrant communities. Everyone — no matter where they were born, their immigration status, or their ZIP code — deserves access to resources that allow them to provide and take care of themselves and their families. By changing the previous administration’s inhumane policy, the Biden administration took a critical step toward ensuring that immigrant families can receive basic public benefits, including health care and nutrition, without fear of jeopardizing their immigration status.
“We look forward to working with the White House and Congress to continue eliminating barriers to health care for immigrants and ensuring a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States.”
The Trump administration’s rule was particularly harmful in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the importance of access to health care, especially since many immigrants served on the front lines as essential workers. In February 2021, President Biden signed a series of executive actions related to immigration, including one which began the process to end the public charge rule. In March 2021, President Biden rescinded the Trump administration’s public charge rule and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reverted back to the 1999 public charge field guidance. In February 2022, DHS proposed today’s public charge rule, on which Planned Parenthood Federation of America submitted public comments supporting the change.
Immigrants and undocumented people already face many barriers to accessing health care. The Trump-era rule made this worse by contributing to a chilling effect whereby immigrant families avoided basic health care and benefits out of fear that they would be penalized. No one’s health should be compromised because of their immigration status.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care, 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.