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Reps. Johnson and Nehls Call on Mayorkas to Rescind DHS “Public Charge” Rule

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U.S. Representative Mike Johnson

United States Representatives Mike Johnson (LA-04) and Troy Nehls (TX-22), today in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urged the secretary to withdraw his department’s recently announced public charge rule.

The newly announced DHS policy will exclude several significant non-cash sources of federal funds—such as Medicaid—when determining a potential immigrant’s cost to taxpayers and admissibility or inadmissibility into America. The letter highlights the impracticality of excluding certain significant federal funds when determining an immigrant’s potential cost to taxpayers.

“Our nation prides itself on having hard-working and self-reliant immigrants that contribute to the country’s economic prosperity,” the letter states. “In passing the public charge rule into law, Congress explained that immigrants should not rely on public resources, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their sponsors. It is irresponsible for the Biden Administration to counter congressional intent by disregarding this goal.”

“Consideration of whether an immigrant will become a public charge when determining admissibility is meant to guarantee the success of U.S. immigration policies,” the letter concludes. “Equally important, this consideration is meant to create an environment where legal immigrants are encouraged to work and prosper. This is vital to a functioning and modern immigration system. Therefore, we request that you immediately rescind your September 2022 public charge rule and issue a new rule to reinstate the use of non-cash federal assistance programs in inadmissibility determinations.”

Representatives Tom Tiffany (WI), Ken Buck (CO), Ralph Norman (SC), Paul Gosar (AZ), Ronny Jackson (TX), Tom McClintock (CA), Darrell Issa (CA), Randy Weber (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Matt Rosendale (MT), Cliff Bentz (OR), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Brian Babin (TX) also joined the letter.

Read the full letter here or below:

Dear Secretary Mayorkas,

We are writing today to express our pressing concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to exclude non-cash federal assistance programs from the public charge rule. The impact of this ill-considered action, set to begin on December 23, 2022, will fundamentally destabilize the necessary reform the Trump Administration made in this area of the U.S. immigration system. Therefore, we request that you immediately rescind your September 2022 public charge rule and issue a new rule to reinstate the use of non-cash federal assistance programs in inadmissibility determinations.

The United States welcomes more immigrants to its shores than any other country, with more than one million people arriving every year as permanent legal residents, asylum-seekers, and refugees. Our nation prides itself on having hard-working and self-reliant immigrants that contribute to the country’s economic prosperity. In passing the public charge law, Congress explained that immigrants should not rely on public resources, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their sponsors. It is irresponsible for the Biden Administration to counter congressional intent by disregarding this goal.

In 2019, the Trump Administration implemented the public charge rule to allow for the inclusion of non-cash entitlement programs in its calculations. Including these programs when determining public charge grounds for inadmissibility was a step in the right direction and a net plus for our economy. As the welfare state continues to grow, so do the country’s trillion-dollar budget deficits and increase in public debt. Currently, there are more non-cash federal programs for low-income individuals than there are cash-based programs. In fact, federal dollars spent on Medicaid alone amount to more than the government spends on all cash programs combined. This demonstrates the impracticality of excluding a significant source of federal funds when determining whether an immigrant will be a public charge.

The Biden Administration’s failed agenda, under your stewardship, has caused a humanitarian crisis at our southern border and eliminated public confidence in our immigration system. Since President Biden took office nearly 4.9 million immigrants have illegally crossed U.S. borders. It is estimated this will cost taxpayers an additional $20.4 billion a year on top of the $140 billion burden illegal immigration imposes on the U.S. each year. Senseless policies such as reinstating catch-and-release, ending the Migrant Protection Protocols, and failing to finish the southwest border wall are all direct causes of these record-breaking numbers. The intended change to the public charge rule is the latest in this long list of failures and will further cripple our immigration system.

Consideration of whether an immigrant will become a public charge when determining admissibility is meant to guarantee the success of U.S. immigration policies. Equally important, this consideration is meant to create an environment where legal immigrants are encouraged to work and prosper. This is vital to a functioning and modern immigration system. Therefore, we request that you immediately rescind your September 2022 public charge rule and issue a new rule to reinstate the use of non-cash federal assistance programs in inadmissibility determinations.

In addition, we request the following specific information regarding the DHS’s final rule on the changes to the interpretation of “public charge”:

What process was used to determine which types of benefits (cash-versus non-cash-based) will be considered?

Why will non-cash benefits not be considered given they amount to a significant source of federal funding for low-income individuals?

Compared to the previous six years, how many fewer people does DHS estimate will be considered public charges under this new rule?

Compared to the previous six years, how many more people does DHS estimate will apply for non-cash benefits once this rule is implemented?

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