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Biden Ends Immigration Rule That Prevented Some Disabled Immigrants From Getting Green Cards

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The Biden administration stopped enforcing the 2019 “public charge” restrictions on green cards last Tuesday, according to CBS News. Under the public charge rule, U.S. officials were permitted to reject green card applications for immigrants if they rely on or are at risk of relying on public benefits, like food stamps and Medicaid.

CBS reported that the Department of Homeland Security would still classify immigrants under public charges if they receive government cash benefits or long-term institutionalized care. “Under the 1999 interim field guidance, DHS will not consider a person’s receipt of Medicaid (except for Medicaid for long-term institutionalization), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination,” the department said.

Disability activists Rebecca Cokley and Hannah Leibson wrote in a post for the Center for American Progress last year when former U.S. President Donald Trump introduced the public-charge rule that disabled immigrants may be forced to make decisions due to this rule that could harm them.

The impossible choice is even greater for immigrant parents with disabilities, including those who have children who are citizens. Parents in this situation would be forced to decide between enrolling their children in health care programs that lawmakers have made them eligible for and thereby failing Trump’s test themselves, or instead opting out of potentially lifesaving medical services to keep their family together.

In many countries — before and after Trump’s presidency — immigrants with disabilities often face barriers when applying for temporary or permanent residency. Author Kenny Fries wrote about the challenges they faced when trying to immigrate to Canada at Quartz. “In 2007, when I applied for permanent residency in Canada, I learned that medical requirements were waived only if I were married to a Canadian citizen,” Fries wrote.

Despite the end of the public charge rule, many immigrants in the U.S. face barriers to receiving adequate healthcare. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees, for example, are excluded from the Affordable Care Act. To learn more about the challenges that refugees and migrants with disabilities face, you can visit the United Nations’ website. 

Image via Getty Images/wblinn

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