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Torres: As USCIS Ends Public Charge Rule for Coronavirus Cases, Every American is Safer

March 16, 2020
Press Release
Announcement Comes Just Days After Torres Led 42 Lawmakers in Calling for the Change

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35) responded today as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will not enforce its public charge rule in cases involving coronavirus testing and treatment.


The policy change comes just days after Rep. Torres led 42 of her Congressional colleagues in urging the administration to drop the public charge rule in light of coronavirus.


It also comes just two weeks after she personally delivered a letter to the administration about their public charge rule, making her the first lawmaker to raise concerns about how the rule would accelerate the spread of coronavirus.


“I'm proud that 42 of my colleagues joined me to urge an end to the public charge rule in light of coronavirus, and glad the Administration took an important first step,” Rep. Torres said. “As a result, more people will be tested, more patients will receive medical treatment, and more lives will be saved. This proves that the Trump Administration understands this rule stands in the way of healthy communities. While I feel strongly that the Administration should end this immoral rule in its entirety, the fact that they are ending its use in light of coronavirus is a step in the right direction that will help make every single American safer.”


The public charge rule allows immigration officers to assess whether immigrants seeking lawful permanent residency are a “public charge” based on whether they have used government benefits, like government health insurance. The rule deterred immigrants experiencing symptoms from seeking medical testing or treatment for fear of losing their green card or even being deported.


Rep. Torres’ letter, co-signed by 42 of her colleagues, is available online here.


Torres’ initial letter, which led lawmakers from across the political spectrum in the Democratic Party to urge a follow-up that they could co-sign, is available here.