I along with many immigration law practitioners were very anxious about October 15, 2019, which was to be the effective date for the new public charge rule. However, fortunately for my stress levels three federal courts in New York, Washington, and California issued a preliminary injunction preventing the rule from going into effect. These injunctions halt the rule from taking effect here in Virginia Beach, Virginia and across the nation.
The federal judge ruling on the case in New York, Judge Greg Daniels, stated that “The Rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification. It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”
The new rule would have required government officials to request additional documents from U.S. citizens and their intending immigrant family members to prove that these family members will not be a “public charge.” Most affected by the application would be those family members of US citizens applying for their green cards or lawful permanent residence.
Under the rule, government officials would look at whether the intending immigrant family member has received public benefits in the last 36 months and other factors such as age, credit reports, fluency in English, education, skills, and health insurance to determine whether the individual presents a “public charge” and be denied a visa or green card. Officials also are given discretion under the rule to require a minimum public charge bond of $8,100.
Even though the federal courts have prevented the rule from going into effect in the U.S. it did not prevent the rule from taking effect overseas at US consulates. However, the US State Department has indicated it will not take effect at US embassies until it develops the new forms necessary to implement the rule.
The federal court ruling also does not prevent the new executive order requiring health insurance for immigrants that we outlined in our previous blog called ‘Exploring the New Health Insurance Requirement for Immigration.' Essentially the policy seeks to limit the number of immigrants by requiring those who enter the country to have health insurance, or enough money to pay for a health insurance plan in the United States.
The public charge rule and the new executive order both are based on the mistaken stereotype that immigrants are a drain on our country, which the current administration ascribes to. The truth is that immigrants have a positive impact on a country's economy, including ours.