On February 2, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. Particularly, the EO directs the heads of a number of federal agencies, including HUD, to review all agency actions related to the public charge rule.
“Public charge” is a term used by US immigration officials to refer to a person who is considered primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. In August of 2019 under the previous administration, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final public charge rule, which significantly expanded the definition of a public benefit to include any HUD-funded public housing development, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance. Enterprise submitted a comment to DHS in 2018 noting our concerns on the amendments the Trump Administration was proposing to the regulations, specifically that they could increase application denial rates for noncitizens seeking admission or lawful permanent residency in the US, and could have destabilizing effects on these communities.
President Biden’s EO instructs the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland security to each submit a report to the President within 60 days of his order reviewing previous agency actions and providing policy recommendations on the public charge rule. Enterprise supports this action and believes it’s an important first step in rectifying the concerning changes made to the rule in the previous administration.