Texas AG Sues Biden Administration Over “Public Charge” Border-Immigration Policies
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit against President Joe Biden, accusing his administration of invalidating a federal law that prevents immigrants from obtaining green cards if they are likely to depend on government social services.
Filed in the United States District Court in Victoria, Texas, the lawsuit claims the Biden administration “seeks to further its open borders policy by enacting a new agency rule that effectively nullifies federal law excluding aliens likely to become public charges.”
In 2019, the Trump administration expanded a rule that would allow immigration officials to deny permanent resident status, otherwise known as a green card, to immigrants if they previously received or in the future expected to receive food assistance, Medicaid, housing assistance or other public benefits.
Then the Biden administration in 2021 stopped enforcing that rule and this last December implemented its own rule that mirrored a 1999 policy that defined a public charge as one using public cash assistance or is institutionalized for long-term care at the public’s expense.
“The rule restores the historical understanding of a ‘public charge’ that had been in place for decades, until the prior Administration began to consider supplemental public health benefits such as Medicaid and nutritional assistance as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a September statement when it announced the new policy. “The rule announced today speaks to the Biden Administration’s commitment to restoring faith in our legal immigration system.”
The concept of a “public charge” has been part of immigration law in the U.S. since the late 1800s, but wasn’t formally defined until May 1999, when the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the agency which predated the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued what is now referred to as the “1999 Interim Field Guidance.”
The guidance identified a “public charge” as someone who is “primarily dependent on the Government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at Government expense.”
During the Trump administration, the “public charge rule” was substantially reworked to reduce the number of people who were eligible for green cards and other visas — by redefining what made them dependent on government benefits or “likely” to be dependent in the future.
Paxton’s lawsuit claims the Biden administration violated the law by revoking the Trump-era rule and adopting its 2022 rule and asks a federal judge to halt the use of the new rule.
Over the last two years, Texas has sued Biden and his administration more than 20 times, with most of the lawsuits focused on immigration policies and a majority of the lawsuits filed in courtrooms overseen by Trump-appointed judges.
Paxton’s office has successfully halted some of the Biden administration’s immigration policies, at least temporarily. Texas recently joined an Arizona-led lawsuit that has compelled the Biden administration to continue enforcing the emergency health order known as Title 42 to expel migrants to Mexico without allowing them to claim asylum.
“I’ve sued Biden over a dozen times to secure our southern border,” Paxton tweeted last week. He suggested, “I’ll keep suing & winning until he & his lawless Dems follow the law.”