Public Charge Rule Blocked Because of Pandemic
Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.
On February 24, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started applying the Inadmissibility on Public Grounds rule nationwide. This meant that at the time of application for admission, application for a visa or adjustment of status, if in the opinion of a consular officer or Attorney General, the applicant was likely to become a public charge they were found to be inadmissible.
On July 29, 2020, a federal judge issued two nationwide injunctions momentarily stopping the Trump administration from applying the public charge rule during the current coronavirus pandemic. The public charge rule was passed to make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status if they used any public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers. The rule would have also deterred residents from seeking testing and treatment for COVID-19 which increases the risk of infection not only for said residents but for the public as well. The injunction issued against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prevents DHS from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Judge George Daniels believes “Adverse government action that targets immigrants, however, is particularly dangerous during a pandemic.”
The second injunction was issued challenging the Department of State’s public charge rule and the President’s Healthcare Proclamation requiring visa applicant to show proof of private health insurance. As a result of this injunction, immigrants wanted to go through consular processing will not be affected by the public charge test used by the Department of State.
According to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, immigrants have been on the front lines of the pandemic since its start. “Today’s injunction will ensure they are not targeted for obtaining health coverage or other vital services, as they continue to battle COVID-19,” she said in a statement. “This order is vital to our national health, as every person who doesn’t get the health coverage they need today risks infecting another person with the coronavirus tomorrow.”
This matter is now likely to go up to the Supreme Court, where there have already been disagreements on the subject. President Trump has made it his mission to undermine the opportunities of new immigrants or those foreign nationals seeking to make America, their “Land of Opportunity!” The court rulings here will inevitably help in stemming the President in his rogue mission.
On the eve of the Indian Independence Day, with the world in a state of chaos and panic, and despair, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Indians and people proud of their India Heritage, a very Happy Indian Independence Day! Hundreds of Thousands, if not millions, of our brethren struggled through extreme hardship so that Mother India could finally stand free from the chains of oppression and imperialism. We are standing proof of their success! Jai Hind!