CHA News

Department of Homeland Security Issues Proposed Rule on Public Charge Policies

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that would exclude noncash benefits — including most Medicaid benefits — when making a public charge inadmissibility determination. Comments on the proposed rule are due April 25.  

Specifically, DHS proposes that noncash benefits such as food and nutrition assistance programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), most Medicaid benefits, housing benefits, and transportation vouchers are not considered when evaluating permanent residency applications.  

DHS would also not consider disaster assistance received under the Stafford Act, pandemic assistance, benefits received via a tax credit or deduction, or Social Security, government pensions, or other earned benefits. Cash assistance, supplemental security income, and long-term institutionalization paid for by the government would still be considered through the new policy. 

In comments submitted to DHS in response to an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, CHA urged DHS to ensure public charge policies are clear, consistent, and do not cause undue fear among immigrant families accessing the public services available to them. Specifically, CHA urged DHS to clarify in a future proposed rule that acceptance of public health insurance benefits for which an immigrant is eligible — including Medi-Cal and CHIP — would not be considered a factor in public charge determinations.   

The proposed rule differs from the 2019 public charge rule issued by the Trump administration that had allowed immigration officials to consider legal immigrants’ use of federal nutrition, housing, and health programs — including Medicaid — in their applications for residency. The previous regulation was withdrawn by the Biden administration in March 2021.