Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently teamed up with a lower-court judge to perform an act of bureaucratic magic—they made the public charge rule disappear. The instant demise of one of the Trump Administration’s signature policies illustrates how immigration advocates have so effectively allied with the judiciary to frustrate enforcement.
Some quick background: Refugees and others admitted for humanitarian reasons are allowed to access government benefits immediately. However, ordinary immigrants applying for family- or employment-based visas are supposed to be self-reliant. To help ensure self-reliance, federal law bars applicants who are “likely at any time to become a public charge” from receiving a visa or becoming a permanent resident.
Until the Trump administration, no formal regulation defined a public charge. DHS had been relying instead on Clinton-era guidance that specified only cash welfare and long-term institutional care as assistance that could render someone a public charge. Receiving other forms of welfare was allowed under the theory that immigrants had to be “primarily” dependent on government to count as public charges. . . .