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AG Nessel Joins Multistate Coalition in Fighting for Health and Nutrition Stability for Immigrant Families

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in support of the Biden administration’s defense of its revised “public charge” regulations, which determine who can obtain or keep legal immigration status. The revised regulations reject harmful Trump-era changes, which caused hardworking immigrants and their families to avoid or refuse critical health, nutrition, and housing programs for which they qualified. In the amicus brief, the coalition emphasized the importance of the Biden administration’s new rule, which supports states’ efforts to protect the health and well-being of immigrant families and all the states’ residents.

“Public nutritional, medical, and housing services support community and public health beyond the benefit to the individual recipients,” said Nessel. “Eligible people who qualify for these programs should be able to rightfully participate in them without being barred permanent resident status. I wholeheartedly stand with my colleagues in supporting the revised public charge rule, which reverses the harmful Trump-era regulations.”

Longstanding guidance by the federal government has defined a “public charge” as a person who is primarily and permanently dependent on either public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutional long-term care at the government’s expense. Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, a noncitizen who is likely to become a public charge is generally inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident. In 2019, the Trump administration issued the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule, which dramatically expanded the definition of a public charge to include even short-term use of supplemental federal government programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance — even as little as $17 a month. Following court decisions across the country blocking the Trump-era rule, it was formally vacated in March 2021.

In December 2022, a new Public Charge Final Rule issued by the Biden administration came into effect. The new rule sought to undo the sweeping harms of the Trump-era rule by largely restoring the long-standing public charge policy. The rule is now facing a legal challenge in the Southern District of Texas after the state of Texas filed a lawsuit (Texas v. Mayorkas) to block its enforcement and resurrect the Trump administration’s harmful 2019 rule.

In the amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general supported the Biden administration’s defense of its rule, arguing that the 2022 rule is consistent with applicable law, and will help encourage their states’ residents, including immigrants and their families, to enroll in and access health and nutrition programs for which they are eligible.

The amicus brief was filed by the attorneys general of California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.


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