BOSTON (2/2/2021) – The Massachusetts chapter of the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign is today thanking President Joe Biden for ordering a review of the public charge rule put in place by the Trump administration, and urging the Biden administration to rescind the rule in its entirety. The rule created a “wealth test” for new immigrants and had a chilling effect on immigrant families’ access to health care and safety net programs.

The coalition – which includes the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Health Law Advocates, Health Care For All, and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute – is affiliated with the national Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign and is dedicated to leading advocacy efforts on the public charge rule in Massachusetts. The organizations previously signed onto a letter urging the Biden Administration to act quickly to reverse the new public charge rule.

“The new public charge rule was an attack on low-income immigrant communities, intended to limit legal immigration and stop immigrants from accessing the critical safety net programs that they qualify for and need,” said Eva Millona, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “We are grateful to President Biden for acting quickly to review this cruel policy and urge him to rescind it in its entirety, and address the fear and anxiety that came along with it. We are optimistic that this is just the beginning of the Biden administration’s commitment to unifying our nation and championing immigration reform that centers equity and justice.”

“President Biden can take action now to significantly improve the health and economic success of Massachusetts residents and people across our country,” said Matt Selig, Executive Director of Health Law Advocates. “A reversal of the public charge rule would encourage immigrants to enroll in health insurance programs for which they are eligible, which is particularly important during a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated communities of color. Our health depends on making sure that everyone in our communities has comprehensive health insurance coverage and access to all of the health care they need.” 

“This announcement brings hope to communities that have been consistently targeted, especially over the last four years. While reviewing the public charge rule or even reversing this regulation is important, it will not suffice to restore the trust and overcome the fear our immigrant communities are experiencing,” said Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “The chilling effect has become a great obstacle in the quest to get everyone access to health care and vaccinated against COVID-19. There is an urgent need for local, state and federal authorities to invest in massive educational campaigns to dispel misinformation and encourage massive immunizations.” 

“We want to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for taking swift action to rectify the harm caused by the public charge rule, which overturned more than a century of precedent and has mired immigrant families, service providers, state agencies, and the legal community in costly, unnecessary efforts to comply with this harsh new rule,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “The previous administration’s actions were punitive, rooted in xenophobia, and meant to cause confusion and harm to immigrant families, including those with US-citizen children and other citizen family members. Overturning the onerous burden that the rule change created will help address the needs of these families, especially during the pandemic, and signal that this is a welcoming and inclusive nation. We look forward to working with the new administration to help support all of our communities.”

Also on Tuesday, President Biden took action to create a task force to reunify families, develop a strategy to address irregular migration across the southern border and create a humane asylum system, re-establish a Task Force on New Americans, rescind President Trump’s memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits, and streamline and improve the naturalization process. Furthermore, on day one of his presidency, President Biden took eight immigration-related executive actions and proposed a bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.