Advocates for Older Adults Applaud President Biden’s Steps Towards Reversing Harmful “Public Charge” Rule

Washington, DC (February 3, 2021)

On Tuesday, President Biden announced steps towards reversing the Trump Administration’s public charge rule that illegally targets older adult immigrants, caregivers and their families. The Executive Order directs agencies to identify actions to address concerns about the current Public Charge rule and take steps to address concerns and reduce fear and confusion among impacted communities. As the administrative process to reverse the rule will take time, these initial steps could help alleviate the rule’s demonstrated chilling effect in accessing government benefits, and facilitate immigrant families in receiving the help they need through programs that improve health, food security, nutrition, and economic security—programs that are especially important during the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

In evaluating whether an individual should be admitted to the U.S. or receive a Green Card, the Trump Administration’s rule gave negative weight to conditions or circumstances common to older adult immigrants including being low-income, having a disability or chronic health condition, enrolling in programs such as Medicaid and SNAP, or being limited English proficient. The rule effectively barred older adults from joining or remaining with their families in the United States and caused fear that led many families to forgo necessary support to meet their basic needs. President Biden’s announcement is a critical initial step in restoring immigrants’ trust in the United States after four years of constant attacks.

Justice in Aging, with advocacy partners American Society on Aging, Caring Across Generations, The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, The Jewish Federations of North America, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, National Council on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging, and PHI, and pro-bono partner Proskauer Rose, filed amicus briefs in multiple legal challenges to the public charge rule across the country.

“Older adults contribute so much to our families and communities, providing love and support to children and grandchildren, while also receiving the support they need as they age. Unfairly barring people from joining their families in the United States because they are not young, wealthy, perfectly healthy, or white is not only wrong, but cheats our communities of the rich contributions older adults make.” Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director, Justice in Aging

“No one should be punished for having a disability or chronic health conditions, or for trying to nourish and provide for their loved ones,” said Namatie Mansaray, senior policy and government affairs manager, Caring Across Generations. “Our communities and economies thrive when families can be together and care for one another.”

“The Center for Medicare Advocacy is relieved that the Biden administration is taking action to reverse the cruel ‘public charge’ rule, which harmed families, our country, and our long-standing national values. The rule threatened the well-being and health of communities, older adults, people with disabilities, and others who need access to care. Health care is a human right. This action is a critical step towards clarifying that America does not turn its back on immigrants or punish them for being poor, sick, or older.” Judith A. Stein, Executive Director, Center for Medicare Advocacy

“The Federal Public Charge Rule is breaking our communities apart. It unjustly punishes low-income immigrant families who otherwise qualify for permanent legal residency and has sowed widespread panic and under-enrollment in public benefit programs. The rule is most harmful to older adults and children. For fear of government retaliation, current green card holders with completely compliant work visas have taken their children off school lunches, declining to seek preventative medical care for themselves and their families, removing themselves from waitlists for affordable housing voucher programs, disenrolling from Medi-Cal health insurance and supplemental food programs, and retreating from any other civic engagement that could expose them to the effects of the rule change. We are honored to stand with our partners to support the Administration’s review of the Federal Public Charge Rule.” Eli Veitzer, President & CEO, Jewish Family Service LA

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger applauds President Biden’s commitment to ensuring all people in this country, including immigrants, have access to the most basic of human needs: enough food to eat,” said Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO. “We were appalled and angered at the previous administration’s heartless public charge rule which was not only inconsistent with American values, it was abhorrent to American Jews. As the Jewish anti-hunger organization, we could not stand idly by so we joined with other partners in taking legal action to oppose the proposed changes to the public charge laws. The righting of this wrong by the Biden administration renews our faith that our government will not turn its back on the most vulnerable among us. We look forward to working with the new administration to expand access to life-sustaining benefits such as SNAP.”

“We applaud President Biden’s efforts to reverse fear-based policies designed to harm diverse communities,” said Joon Bang, President & CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA). “It’s a step towards healing our country and restoring dignity back to our immigrant communities.”

“NCOA applauds the Administration for starting the process to reverse the public charge rule, which would have forced older immigrants into impossible choices between the benefits they deserve and the security of their families. We stand for social justice and expanded access to nutritious food and affordable health care for all.” Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO, National Council on Aging (NCOA)

“Latinos, and Latino older adults in particular, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In our COVID-19 work, Latino immigrants have voiced concerns about accessing the vaccines for fear it would violate the public charge rule,” shared Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. “We applaud and thank President Biden and his administration for taking swift action to right this inhumane policy that has resulted in unnecessary harm, fear, and stress for many, in an already difficult time.”

“We applaud President Biden’s action today towards reversing the Trump Administration’s harmful and unnecessary public charge rule, which has forced many immigrants to forgo necessary food, shelter, and medical appointments during this pandemic. Immigrants are an essential part of the direct care workforce and deserve to be fully supported as they work and live in this country.” Jodi M. Sturgeon, President, PHI

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