The Truth about the ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Rule

On the Paso del Norte border bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)
Ending the charade that food stamps and public housing aren’t welfare.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE M aking sure that we admit as immigrants only people who can support themselves is the first principle of American immigration law. And I don’t just mean that it’s foundational as theory, but also chronologically — Massachusetts prohibited the admission of paupers in 1645.

This principle was incorporated into the first general federal law regulating immigration, the Immigration Act of 1882. That law banned immigrants likely to become a “public charge,” that is, dependent on taxpayer funds for their support. For the entire Ellis Island period and beyond, this was the main reason people seeking to immigrate to the United States were


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