CLINIC Calls on DHS to Withdraw Proposed Public Charge Rule


Last Updated

December 21, 2018

The Catholic Legal and Immigration Network and its affiliate agencies are among the more than 210,000 organizations and individuals that submitted comments in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) entitled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.” The NPRM, which was widely criticized for public policy reasons, would drastically alter the public charge ground of inadmissibility for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants, and affect Lawful Permanent Residents returning from extended trips abroad. Below is a brief summary of CLINIC’s opposition. You can read our full comment here.

CLINIC opposed the proposed rule because it:

  • lacks justification and is not supported by evidence
  • is contrary to legislative intent and case law
  • would unnecessarily jeopardize public health, safety and family stability
  • would create new inefficiencies and burdens on immigrants, legal representatives and government agencies

For at least two decades, receipt of most public benefits, including SNAP and Medicaid, were not considered for purposes of the public charge determination. These benefits were viewed as important to promote overall public health, nutrition and economic growth, and were excluded from the determination. While DHS has historically examined multiple factors in evaluating whether someone was likely to become a public charge, the affidavit of support has been a primary factor since 1997. The proposed rule would change long-standing policy by adding six non-cash benefits to the list of those that can be considered as part of the totality of the circumstances test and shift the focus onto the intending immigrant. In addition to the five statutory factors that the agency can consider, DHS proposes additional factors, such as an intending immigrant’s credit scores and proficiency in English. These proposed considerations are not an accurate measure of the likelihood of becoming a public charge and would result in many immigrants being found inadmissible. The proposed use of newly defined “heavily weighted factors” would not provide clarity to the public charge determination and could easily be implemented in an inconsistent and arbitrary manner. Reestablishing the public charge bonds would be unnecessary and burdensome. As a whole, the proposal is counterproductive and would create tremendous burden on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, legal representatives and immigrants.


What should you do next?

Review – The proposed rule is not in effect. The rulemaking process requires DHS to consider the full rulemaking record, including comments, facts and data, and expert opinions as it decides on next steps. DHS may choose to terminate the rulemaking, amend it, or make no changes and proceed with a final rule. More information about the Federal Rulemaking Process can be found here. We will continue to monitor the status of the proposed rule and provide updates. For more information about the proposed rule and resources on how to counsel clients, please visit CLINIC’s Public Charge page.

Report – Many of our network agencies and partners submitted comments regarding the proposed rule.  We are grateful to all who weighed in against this harmful proposal. Help us track comments by reporting submission by email to

Release – Consider sending a press release to make your organization’s opposition to this proposal known. CLINIC’s press release can be found here.

Raise Awareness – We encourage agencies to remain vigilant in fighting this proposal. As we wait to see how DHS will respond to this historic response in opposition, we encourage engagement with local and federal officials to continue to raise awareness of the harmful nature of the proposal and its chilling effects. We encourage community leaders to consider social media campaigns, submitting op-eds to local and national news outlets and other ways to keep pressure on DHS to reverse course. You can find sample social media posts, opinion articles and other resources in our Public Charge Interfaith Advocacy Toolkit here.