Smiling family outdoor with two little kids

Cruel Public Charge Law Should Be Repealed

No one should have to choose between meeting their basic needs and being with their loved ones.

The Shriver Center has urged federal authorities to repeal laws that provide for the “public charge” test, which punishes people seeking permanent resident status if they use public supports to meet their family’s basic needs. In comments filed with the Department of Homeland Security, the Shriver Center argues that repeal of the public charge statutory provision is the most just outcome for immigrant families, and for all of us.  

In partnership with Legal Council for Health Justice, the Shriver Center maintains that the public charge test has xenophobic and racist roots that cause significant harm to immigrant communities, particularly for immigrants of color. Moreover, the notion of labeling someone a “public charge” is steeped in profoundly harmful ableism, and reinforces stereotypes of disabled people as burdens while absolving the federal government of its responsibility to improve systems and structures for people with disabilities.  

As the pandemic has shown, the chilling effects of the public charge rule on people’s access to health insurance, nutrition assistance, and income support affect not only immigrant households, but also the public health and economic recovery of broader communities, in conflict with our collective best interests.  

Indeed, the practice of excluding immigrants based on their economic status is wholly inconsistent with the vision of United States as a land of opportunity where everyone can achieve the American dream.  

In anticipation of new proposed rules from the Department of Homeland Security, the Shriver Center recommends that use of public benefits should not be considered in the public charge test. Moreover, immigrants should not be denied the opportunity to become permanent residents simply because they have low income.  

In February 2021, the Biden Administration signed an executive order directing relevant federal agencies to immediately review the public charge regulation. In response, the Justice Department dismissed its defense of the public charge rule in a lawsuit brought by the Shriver Center and other advocacy partners, effectively blocking enforcement of the rule.  

The Department of Homeland Security received nearly 200 comments from the public on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking.  

Read our comments on the public charge rule. 

More Information

America’s greatest strength is its diversity.

Systemic inequities and the legacy of structural racism make it harder for low-income people and people of color to achieve financial stability.

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