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Does U.S. law generally ban the entry of immigrants who are likely to become a public charge (i.e., burden to taxpayers)?

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U.S. Code Title 8, Chapter 12, Section 1182 bans the entry of immigrants who are "likely at any time to become a public charge," or burden to taxpayers. Under guidelines issued by the Clinton administration in 1999 and left in place until 2019, the federal government interpreted this law in a manner that ignored numerous welfare benefits, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start, subsidized housing, and assistance with paying utility bills. In 2019, the Trump administration issued a regulation that considers such welfare benefits when deciding whether to admit immigrants. After a series of lawsuits and injunctions by Democrat-appointed judges, higher courts allowed Trump's regulation to become nationally effective in February of 2020. After that, a U.S. District Court judge appointed by Barack Obama reversed the rule, the Biden administration decided to not defend it, and Clinton's guidelines took effect again in 2021.

DocumentationPublic Charge LawPublic Charge Guidelines



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