Opinion: We must abolish the ‘public charge’ rule

Opinion by Christopher RichardsonAugust 15, 2019 at 2:45 p.m. EDT

Christopher Richardson was a State Department consular officer and diplomat from 2011 to 2018. He is now an immigration attorney.

The Trump administration announced a vast expansion of an immigration inadmissibility this week known as the “public charge.” The new rule, more than 800 pages long, creates stricter standards for applicants seeking legal permanent residency who use public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance. In other words, immigration officials will look more thoroughly at the credit scores, wealth, age and educational background of immigration applicants to determine whether they are worthy of being here.

Such a policy may sound shocking to some, but in fact, the public-charge provision has long been a weapon of racism and classism in the United States. Far from its expansion, the rule should be abolished as a relic of the bygone era from which it came.