VOR Statement to Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility
VOR has submitted a statement to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding proposals to change the "Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility", also known as the Public Charge Rule.
Since 1999, the Immigration Service had denied a request to immigrate to the US from anyone in need of institutional care, on the grounds that they would become a “public charge”, i.e. someone whose care would be a cost to taxpayers. In 2019, the Trump Administration changed the rule to bar anyone needing any long-term services and supports from entering the U.S. Recently, the Biden Administration dropped the 2019 restrictions, reverted to the 1999 definitions, and sought proposals to change the rule.
The Administration for Community Living proposed making exception for people receiving HCBS services, on the grounds that institutional care requires taxpayers to pay for room and board via Medicaid, while HCBS does not. A group of VOR members met with the ACL to discuss the proposal and its limitations. While VOR is still not comfortable with this carveout for one group of people with I/DD and not another, we do realize that this is a step forward in the law, allowing more people with I/DD to be considered entry into the U.S. and providing clearer guidelines than had been delineated in the 1999 law.
We also realize that the basis of the law has always been to exclude people who require institutional care from entering the U.S., and that nothing we could say would remove that completely. We did, however, ask that the need for institutional care be considered a factor among many in an application for immigration, and that it would not necessarily be grounds for exclusion in and of itself. We also requested a forum by which families who have a loved one who requires institutionalization might appeal their case within the DHS, and not have to appeal to a federal court.
VOR's letter was submitted by Hugo Dwyer, Gayle Gerdes, Peter Kinzler, Sam Friedman, and Joanne St. Amand.