President Biden Signs Executive Orders on Immigration Reform, Including Public Charge Directives for Agencies

President Joe Biden signed three Executive Orders (EOs) on immigration reform on February 2, including an order on “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which sets into motion changes to the previous administration’s harmful Public Charge rule. The Executive Order “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans” directs agencies to develop strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship.

In the EO regarding public charge, Section 4 (Immediate Review of Agency Actions on Public Charge Inadmissibility) orders the secretary of state, attorney general, secretary of Homeland Secretary, and heads of other relevant agencies to review all agency actions related to the implementation of the Public Charge rule and examine the effects of the previous administration’s harmful changes to the rule (see Memo, 08/19/2019). The EO further orders that they consult with the heads of relevant agencies, including the secretary of Agriculture, secretary of Health and Human Services, and secretary of HUD in considering the effects and implications of public charge policies.

The Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security are ordered to submit a report to the president within 60 days identifying appropriate agency actions to address concerns about the current public charge policy’s effect on the integrity of the nation’s immigration system and public health, along with recommended steps agencies can take to communicate current public charge policies and proposed changes to reduce fear and confusion among impacted communities.

The implementation of the Public Charge rule resumed on January 22 after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has delayed its preliminary injunction order made on December 2 (see Memo, 12/07/2020). The Ninth Circuit granted DHS a request to delay the effective date of the preliminary injunction until the U.S. Supreme Court determines if it will hear public charge challenges seeking review.

The Executive Order is an important step toward the elimination of the Trump administration’s restrict Public Charge policies, but immediate action is needed to limit the demonstratable chilling effect the rule has had on immigrant families pursuing public benefits and supports and the potential to deter families from receiving COVID-19 testing and treatment.

It is important to note that the Public Charge Rule will not apply to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases including COVID-19. In addition, the rule does not restrict access to vaccines for children or adults to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. Readers are encouraged to read the updated fact sheet “Public Charge: What Advocates Need to Know Now” for more information and key messages to share.

The Executive Order does not make any reference to the previous administration's harmful proposal to the HUD Mixed Status rule (see Memo, 05/13/2019). The final rule was never published, but the proposal remains on the Federal Register at the time of this writing. While this proposed rule does not impact current regulation, the administration and HUD must work immediately to rescind this rule to limit confusion and begin to work to address the needs of mixed status families.

The preliminary injunction on the DOS Public Charge Rule remains in effect nationwide (see Memo, 08/03).

Read the “Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans” at:

Read the Executive Order in the Federal Register at:

Visit the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Campaign website for more information and resources on the Public Charge Rule at:

PIF’s Updated “Public Charge: What Advocates Need to Know Now” can be found at: