Congressional Leaders Submit Public Charge Rule Comment Letters

Members of Congress sent three letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week in support of needed reforms to the “public charge” rule to ensure immigrant families can access important safety net services, such as housing assistance. The three letters express support for DHS’s efforts to repair damage done by the Trump administration and urge DHS to finalize the proposed rule to provide certainty for those navigating an already complex immigration system. Notably, the House and Senate letters recommend ways to improve the public charge rule further, as recommended by advocates with the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign.

Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) led a public charge comment letter in the U.S. Senate, with 13 senators signing on. Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) led a letter in the U.S. House of Representatives, with 49 other House members signing on. The Judiciary Committees of the House and the Senate submitted a bicameral letter to DHS as well. Overall, 68 members of Congress joined housing and immigration advocates nationwide in supporting the Biden administration’s proposed public charge rule.

NLIHC, along with more than 1,000 advocates nationwide, also sent a public comment letter to DHS urging the Biden administration to act quickly to reform the public charge rule to ensure immigrant families can access critical safety net services without fear. While the Trump administration amended the public charge rule to include public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) in the public charge determination for immigration applications, the current proposed rule no longer considers housing assistance as a public charge. Advocates are continuing to monitor the public charge rule in the Federal Register and are working to assure immigrant families that housing assistance will not be considered in their applications for citizenship. Further information about the effort can be found on the website of Keep Families Together, a shared initiative between NLIHC and the National Housing Law Project.

Read the letter sent by NLIHC and other organizations.

Read the letter sent by the Senate members.

Read the letter sent by the House members.

Read the letter sent by the Judiciary Committees.