The NCSL Blog


By Christian Burks

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced March 9 that the federal government will no longer defend the Trump administration’s public charge rule.

Hundreds of people stand in line outside an immigration office in San Francisco on Jan. 31, 2019.Eric Risberg / AP fileSoon after, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed remaining appeals regarding the rule. This means the 2019 public charge regulations are no longer in effect and the DHS and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will follow the 1999 interim field guidance instead of the now-defunct 2019 rule.

The rule had previously been struck down by the Northern District of Illinois for violating the Administrative Procedures Act, and the actions by the DHS and Supreme Court ensure that the court’s ruling is now in effect. 

The 2019 rule had altered the definition of public charge and expanded the list of public programs considered in making a public charge inadmissibility determination from strictly cash assistance programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, etc.) to include Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Federal Public Housing Assistance.

More information about the 2019 rule can be found at the NCSL’s public charge resource page. NCSL filed comments opposing the 2019 rule due to the adverse fiscal and economic it placed on states.

With the return to the 1999 rule, an applicant’s receipt of Medicaid, public housing or SNAP benefits will no longer be considered as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.

Christian Burks is an intern in NCSL's Immigration Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.