On early March 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed a case regarding the controversial Trump-era public charge rule that made it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status if they used certain public benefits including food stamps and Medicaid. The rule made it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status because being a public charge is a ground of inadmissibility. In determining whether an immigrant is inadmissible, a USCIS officer has to decide whether an immigrant is likely to become dependent on certain government benefits in the future, which would make them a “public charge.” The Trump-era public charge rule was implemented in 2019 and had been in effect in the majority of states in the U.S.
But the Biden administration decided to no longer pursue this course of action in the Supreme Court because they argue that it’s not in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources. This means that the guidance passed in 1999 on public charge will apply, which makes it safer for immigrants to obtain Medicaid, COVID relief, housing, food and other services.
The previous 1999 guidance was not as strict on public assistance and only excluded the following assistance: Supplemental Security Income, cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and some state or local cash assistance programs.
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