On July 29, 2020, a federal court issued two nationwide injunctions temporarily blocking the Trump administration’s “public charge” rules, recognizing the rules threaten public health during COVID-19 because they make immigrant families fearful to access testing, treatment, and other resources their families need to stay healthy. This court order prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing, applying, implementing the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The court also enjoined the U.S. State Department from applying its parallel “public charge” rules, including the president’s Health Care Proclamation, to applicants for visas at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Earlier this year, the Trump Administration implemented harsh new public charge rules. Public charge is a longstanding immigration rule that allows the government to deny entry to, or residency in, the United States if it determines that an immigrant will not be able to support themselves. It was rarely used to deny entry or residency into the country. Even though many categories of immigrants are exempt from the public charge rules, the Administration’s changes caused fear and confusion for immigrant families. As explained in a recent report co-published with SC Appleseed, “Trump Administration Immigration Policies are Harming Children and Families in the Carolinas” many immigrant families have decided to disenroll their U.S. citizen children from public programs like Medicaid out of fear that it will prevent the parent from adjusting their immigration status in the future, even though it will not.
Louise Pocock, Immigration Policy Attorney with SC Appleseed welcomed these court orders stating, “It is such a relief that South Carolina’s immigrant families can now be confident that accessing healthcare or receiving public benefits they might need during COVID-19 won’t harm their immigration options in the future because many families are struggling right now.”
Visit SC Appleseed’s resources on public charge to learn more about public charge and find information for impacted families.