Press Statements

CIPC Applauds Biden “Public Charge” Regulation as Major Win For Immigrant Families in California

Sacramento, California — A new “public charge” regulation, published on September 9th by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), secures critical protections to facilitate immigrant families’ access to the health and social services safety net. While the final regulation largely restores and improves upon the public charge policy in place for 20 years prior to the Trump administration, it also makes improvements sought by the California Immigrant Policy Center and more than 1,000 other organizations across the U.S. coordinated by the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition (PIF). CIPC chairs the California Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition (CA PIF), composed of over 75 organizations across the state, including grassroots community-based organizations, policy advocates, and service providers.

“The Biden administration’s public charge rule brings us closer to our vision of a California for all, where immigrant families feel welcome to access the critical health, nutrition, and housing programs they need,” said Cynthia Buiza, CIPC’s Executive Director. “This new policy comes shortly after California made history by agreeing to fully remove immigration-based exclusions for Medi-Cal. We are eager to work with the Biden administration and our state government to make it clear to immigrant communities that these programs are available and safe to use without fear of immigration consequences.”

The Trump-era public charge rule cruelly deterred millions of qualified immigrant families from seeking health care and aid, for fear of immigration consequences. The new regulation will eliminate these potential consequences for immigrants when they access critical safety net programs, and reiterate to immigrant families that they should access the life-saving benefits for which they qualify without fear.

Additional Background:

Why does this matter?

Research confirms the now-reversed Trump public charge regulations and their widespread “chilling effect” deterred millions of immigrant families from seeking health care and aid during the pandemic, undermining pandemic response and widening racial disparities in its economic and health impact. Research indicates that, long after its reversal by the Biden Administration, persistent information gaps and concerns about the Trump policy continue to drive lower COVID-19 vaccination rates, increased food insecurity, and other disparities among immigrants of color.

How does this regulation relate to the Trump public charge policy?

The public charge regulation issued by the Trump DHS took effect just weeks before COVID-19 hit the United States. When the Biden Administration reversed the Trump policy in March 2021, it reverted to guidance in effect from 1999 through February 2020. The regulation issued on September 9, 2022, formally replaces that guidance. Regulations are harder to change than informal guidance, so the issuance of final public charge regulations protects against radical changes by future presidential administrations.

What does the final regulation do?

Based on a PIF coalition analysis, selected provisions of the final regulation clarify that:

  • A child’s or other family member’s use of federal safety net programs never affects the applicant’s immigration application.
  • CalFresh or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), California’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Covered California subsidies, Medicare, the Child Tax Credit, Section 8 housing assistance, and other “non-cash” federal programs (and state- and locally-funded versions of those programs) never affect immigration applications.
  • DHS will not consider the use of health care programs (like Medi-Cal or Medicaid, CHIP and the marketplace) by eligible immigrants and their family members.
  • DHS can consider long-term institutional care paid for by Medi-Cal or Medicaid (short term rehabilitation or community based services will not be considered), and cash assistance for income maintenance such as SSI, TANF (called CalWORKs in California), and state, local and tribal cash assistance. However, DHS must consider other factors such as education, income, and an affidavit of support. Therefore, the applicant’s use of long-term institutional care or cash assistance will not automatically result in a determination that the applicant is likely to become a public charge.


The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) is a statewide immigrant rights organization that advocates for policies that protect and advance the rights of immigrants and their families throughout California. CIPC combines legislative and policy advocacy, strategic communications, statewide organizing, and regional coalition capacity building to pursue its mission of advocating for policies that uphold the humanity of immigrants and refugees while advancing racial, social, and economic justice.