Biden Administration Rule Broadens List of Long-term Benefits Migrants Can Have without Risking Immigration Status

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Wednesday joined U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.) in an effort to repeal a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule that dramatically scales back the number of taxpayer-funded benefits immigrants can use without negating their applications for permanent residency in the United States. 

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of Marshall’s Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval (S.J.Res.18) to repeal the DHS public charge rule, which reduces the types of federal benefits (such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid) that DHS can consider when determining whether to grant admission or lawful permanent residence to green card applicants.

“The Biden administration’s relaxed Public Charge Rule is one more policy that signals to all would-be illegal immigrants that the border is open, with plenty of U.S. taxpayer-funded benefits ready for the taking once you get across,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Considering the disastrous state of the border, the current stress on our economy, and our outsized national debt, it is necessary to stop this Homeland Security rule that abandons any real self-sufficiency test for those entering the country.”

“With the crisis raging at our southern border and the national debt over $31 trillion, it is fair and sensible to favor prospective new citizens who will not be reliant on government benefits,” Marshall said.  “My legislation will ensure America welcomes self-sufficient new citizens who are ready to contribute, while reigning in excessive spending.”

In 2019, the Trump administration defined “public charge” as an immigrant who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid.  Under the 2019 rule, extended use of these benefits would disqualify an immigrant from receiving a green card. 

Under the Biden administration’s new rule that went into effect in December 2022, only the receipt of cash benefits or long-term institutional care could trigger a public charge finding.  It effectively ignores the myriad medical, housing, educational, and other public benefits routinely doled out by federal, state, local, and tribal agencies.

U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Risch (R-Idaho), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also cosponsored S.J.Res.18

U.S. Representative Troy Nehls (R-Texas) is leading the effort in the House of Representatives with U.S. Representatives Mike Johnson (R-La.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) as cosponsors.

The resolution was endorsed by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Heritage Action for America.