We urge providers and advocates to continue messaging the rollback of the 2019 Public Charge rule and encourage communities to seek out benefits, as needed. As of March 9, 2021, the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” rule, finalized under the Trump Administration in 2019, is no longer in effect; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has formally rescinded the 2019 rule and reinstated prior guidance from 1999.
Consistent with that prior guidance, a number of public assistance programs are not considered in a public charge inadmissibility determination – including housing benefits, COVID-19 relief programs, and vaccines – and immigrant families should feel safe to access these resources if needed and eligible.
Benefits/services not considered include, but are not limited to:
Section 8 and public housing benefits
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/CalFresh/Pandemic EBT benefits
Medicaid/Medi-Cal (except for when it pays for long-term care)
Emergency rental assistance funds, such as the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program
COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines/boosters
Only cash assistance for income maintenance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)/CalWORKs, and long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense will be considered as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination as it was prior to the 2019 rule. For a complete list of benefits that are and are not considered for determination purposes, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ webpage on Public Charge Resources.
Although the rule has been invalidated for nearly a year, the “chilling effect” preventing immigrant families from allowing themselves to access essential public benefits remains. As a result, it is imperative that providers and advocates continue to message the reversal of the 2019 public charge rule to our communities. Advocates, such as the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, have developed numerous resources for messaging, including family-facing messages, a community social media toolkit, and a Keep Your Benefits social media toolkit. You can also access the Keep Your Benefits guide, which can help assess if you or your client could be affected by a public charge determination.
Additionally, if you or your clients have questions or concerns about a public charge determination, please contact a local legal services provider. LAHSA has compiled a list of Immigration Legal Services providers in Los Angeles County and additional resources are available through the Los Angeles County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs website.