A Final Response about USCIS Public Charge Policy Guidance

By Dan Cadman on February 18, 2020

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick chose to respond to my blog post about his prior tweet with another series of tweets, saying in pertinent part:

But in all seriousness, as a response to Dan Cadman, who apparently gets tweets emailed to him(?), I fully understand the INA.

The problem is that I simply *disagree* that the INA, when properly read, permits an adjudicator to consider adjustment of status as a negative factor.

I don't want to draw out this twitter/blog exchange because it's unlikely Reichlin-Melnick and I will ever agree on much, but a quick response to his response to my response is in order.

First, he says that he "fully understand[s] the INA". Might be timely to quote back to him his own words from a February 12 tweet:

Where dearth of experience is concerned, what's the difference between Mizelle and you, Reichlin-Melnick? Mere quantity? Don't the legal decisions you make in your present position affect — with potentially equally harmful outcomes — the lives of the many aliens with whom you and your organization come into contact?

Second, I don't think it's out of bounds for USCIS adjudicators to consider how the longevity of one's stay in the United States affects one's "personal characteristics" since financial staying power, without turning to taxpayer-funded programs, presents heightened risks for those who will be here in the long haul. Anyone may be able to make it for six months, perhaps a year, on his or her own. But in perpetuity? That's a different story. It seems to me that this is entirely germane to an examination of one's eligibility for adjustment of status.

Finally, it's worth commenting on why we are in this position in the first place, and that's because the Clinton administration chose to create an unrealistic regulatory structure governing the public charge statute in which only cash assistance and long-term institutionalized care were counted against aliens in considering their admissibility. This was a preposterous approach, and reflected an effort by that administration to do what it could to curtail the plain meaning of the statute and render it nearly impossible to enforce.

It was only with the Trump administration's decision to include more (but by no means all) taxpayer-supported programs in the calculation of admissibility that USCIS then amended its guidance.

In my view, this was long overdue.