Measure could prevent families from seeking needed care

In response to the Senate vote to rescind the Biden Administration’s 2022 public charge rule, First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:

“No family should fear seeking the health care, healthy food, or housing support their child needs. We are very disappointed that the Senate relinquished this principle and advanced a bill to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Biden Administration’s public charge rule.

First Focus Campaign for Children strongly supported the Biden Administration’s rule because it was based on years of public charge policy and good policy for children. The 2019 rule was confusing and led immigrant families to avoid health care, nutrition and housing benefits for fear of immigration consequences. This chilling effect continued into the COVID-19 pandemic, even as immigrant families were disproportionately struggling. Congress must ensure that immigrant families feel comfortable enrolling their children in programs for which they are eligible. The Biden public charge rule was an important step to advance the health and well-being of children in immigrant families. We urge the House of Representatives to reject the CRA resolution and call on all policymakers to put the health and safety of children first in all policymaking.”

26 percent children in the United States have an immigrant parent, and most of those children (88%) are U.S. citizens. Research showed that after the 2019 public charge rule was published, families avoided important health care (45%), nutrition (48%), and housing subsidies (35%), including programs not included in a public charge determination (25% avoided WIC and reduced-price school lunches). Research also showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrant families with children avoided benefits at a higher rate than immigrant families without children. The Biden public charge rule is now the rule in effect, and the Senate’s vote on overturn the rule makes no change to current policy.

First Focus Campaign for Children is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.