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Biden Administration unwinds Trump Wealth Test for Immigrants

The Biden administration on September 8, finalized a rule to replace a Trump-era policy that sought to limit immigration of those it feared may rely on social services. The new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy rolls back the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule, restricting immigration pathways for those seeking to become U.S. citizens only if they are “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”

The Biden administration stopped defending the Trump-era rule just months after taking office, but the new rule is a departure from a Trump-era policy requiring prospective new citizens to forecast whether they might at any time rely on government aid. The Trump-era rule barred those who received assistance from one program over the course of a year and roped in new programs that were previously excluded from consideration, including food stamps and medical assistance. “This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a release.

An applicant’s use of cash assistance programs will still be weighed as a factor in a green card application.

The Trump-era public charge rule was one of a number of restrictions the previous administration sought to put in place restricting pathways to citizenship for those already in the U.S. as well as for those overseas seeking immigration visas.

The United States benefits enormously when it takes advantage of the talents of immigrants from all cultures and countries, not just the privileged. Stigmatizing newly-arriving immigrants for having low incomes ignores the evidence that immigrants need time to establish their roots in the United States The data is clear that immigrants are a net benefit to this country, even if they start from the bottom and work their way up.

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