The Biden administration on Tuesday stopped enforcing the 2019 “public charge” restrictions on green cards, unraveling the centerpiece of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict legal immigration. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said his department had halted the implementation of the 2019 “public charge” regulation following the reinstatement of a federal court order blocking the Trump-era policy.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Justice Department notified courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, that it would no longer defend the Trump administration’s public charge regulation.
Advocates had strongly denounced the policy, which granted U.S. officials broader discretion to reject green card applications from immigrants the officials found were relying — or at risk of relying — on public benefits, like food stamps.
“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them.”
Last month, President Biden instructed the Department of Homeland Security to review the public charge rule and other Trump-era limits on legal immigration. On Tuesday, DHS said it had determined as part of the review that defending the rule against the flurry of lawsuits it garnered from states, local jurisdictions and advocacy groups was “neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.”
Soon after the Justice Department’s actions, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal of one of the district court rulings against the green card restrictions, restoring the suspension of the policy.