Moreno Wants City Council To Wade Into Divisive “Public Charge Rule” Controversy

Tonight, Councilman Jose F. Moreno is asking the Anaheim City Council to oppose the recently announced change by the Department of Homeland Security – which oversees the Immigration and Naturalization Service – to the “public charge” rule.

With so many pressing matters facing Anaheim upon which the city council can actually take action, residents can be forgiven for wondering why the council is taking up this issue (beyond making partisan political hay)?

Nonetheless it helpful to examine what the public charge rule is, and what are the changes Councilman Moreno opposes.

The public charge rule is a longstanding U.S. policy pertaining to legal residents, immigrants seeking entry, and illegal immigrants seeking legal status. It does not apply to migrants admitted on humanitarian grounds, i.e. refugees and asylees. Nor does it apply to U.S. citizen children of green card applicants. It also makes provision for migrants who are pregnant and/or are under 21, and for Medicaid services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or in a school setting.

The revised public charge rule only accounts for public assistance received directly by green card holders/applicants for that person’s own benefit, or where they are listed as beneficiary of the public benefit. It doesn’t count public benefits received on behalf of another, nor does it count public assistance received by members of the applicant’s household (unless also listed as a beneficiary of that assistance).

What Changed In The Public Charge Rule?

Prior to the rule change, a public charge was a migrant who is “primarily dependent on the Government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at Government expense” – e.g.  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income.

That iteration of the rule, dating back to the Clinton Administration, prohibited the INS from considering the broad range of non-cash public assistance programs in determining whether a legal residency applicant was primarily dependent on government assistance.

In other words, if an applicant for legal residency was using government programs like food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare Part D subsidies, WIC, Section 8 housing vouchers or rental assistance, etc. – none of those could be considered in determining whether or not the applicant was primarily dependent on public assistance.

The new public charge rule allows the INS to factor in those non-cash public assistance programs when judging whether a legal residency applicant is primarily dependent on public assistance.

Like it or not, it represents a more honest appraisal of whether a legal residency applicant is reliant on taxpayer support. As stated in the rule change, it is intended to better ensure legal residency applicants “are self-sufficient, i.e., do not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities, as well as the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations.”

What Councilman Moreno is a return to a public charge rule under which immigration authorities pretend a range of public assistance programs are not public assistance programs.

According to the Homeland Security Secretary, the change to the “public charge inadmissibility rule better ensures that immigrants are better able to successfully support themselves as they seek opportunity here in America.”

A Long History In U.S. Immigration Law

The public charge rule has been embedded in American immigration law going back to our earliest years – regardless of policy fluctuations between permissiveness and restriction. Even during the era of mass immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries – which progressives erroneously characterize as open borders – would-be immigrants had to furnish some evidence they were able “to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge,” such as the promise of employment, assurance of support from relatives in the country, etc.

Moreno’s resolution implicitly recognizes the validity of the principles underlying the public charge rule, and the national interest in ensuring immigrants to the United States will be self-sufficient, productive members of society.

Inaccurate Claims In Moreno’s Resolution

His resolution does contains some wild inaccuracies. such as this claim:

WHEREAS, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that, under the proposed public charge test, more than 100 million people – about one-third of the total U.S. population – would fail the public-charge determination if they were required to take it today

Except, more than 100 million people cannot fail the new public charge rule because there aren’t 100 million-plus legal residents or legal residency applicants subject to it.  According to the most recent data available, there are 13.1 million lawful permanent residents – 8.9 million of whom are eligible for citizenship.

That’s a long way from 100 million-plus.

Moreno also objects that the rule change is counter to the spirit of “Welcome Anaheim.” It bears recalling that Welcome Anaheim as a way to integrate immigrants into Anaheim and tap into their entrepreneurial energy.  Being “welcoming” doesn’t mean using an inaccurate and dishonest measure of what constitutes dependence on public assistance.

Caution and prudence should be exercised when applying the new rule to requests for extension of legal residency. On the other hand, if a legal resident is “primarily dependent” on public assistance, it’s reasonable to consider whether that spot should be yielded to a would-be American more likely to be self-sufficient.

There is no shortage of migrants applying to enter the United States, and the new public charge rule will not reduce immigration into our country. Nor should it. America was built on immigration and continues to benefit from it. However, the revised public charge rule will tend to favor the millions of potential immigrants – many of whom have already applied for legal residency – who can support themselves without relying on government assistance. We can debate whether or not our immigration policy should tilt toward immigrants with more skills and education who are more likely to create opportunity for themselves and others – but most Americans think it should. This country needs the fresh blood of their energy, skills and hard work.

Most Anaheim residents would likely question why their City Council is even wading into this debate. Furthermore, Moreno’s resolution is misleading and alarmist. Common sense tells us immigration authorities ought to be able to have the tools to make an honest, accurate determination whether or not a legal residency applicant will be self-sufficient or dependent on taxpayer support.  Councilman Moreno’s resolution opposes that.


  1. You are correct that the City Council should not be deciding Immigration Policy. However, it seems, the the Orange Haired Clown and his minions can’t discuss it rationally either. Just out of curiosity had anybody checked to see how those chicken plants are doing since their employees were rounded up? This whole country are immigrants. Go Wedt young man was a calling card to destroy Native American rights and land. This country, to this day, is built on the backs of immigrants. How many citizens are picking crops? How many citizens built the railroads? How many of your children are working in fast food or cleaning your houses or hotels.? N I do not support open borders but maybe all should look in a mirror before speaking on immigration positions. Now I am sure someone will respond “there are legal ways to come here.” Yes there are, now tell that to the farmer that needs his crops picked or that chicken company or to the Bahamainians that we’re just kicked off the boat. No our City Council should not be discussing immigration but if the government won’t, who will?

  2. With only 3 ayes, Moreno’s Resolution was not passed.

  3. No surprise.

  4. No surprise.

  5. Note to self:
    If elected to a body, by a fringe group, DO NOT recruit accused child abusers (Victor Valladares, pending trial), multiple drunk driving convicts (again VV, who remains on probation) and paid shills to advocate for your cause.

    Just bad poltics, if as rumored, Dr. Moreno lans to launch a primary challenge from the EXTREME left.

    Just Sayin’

  6. Moreno has gone on a full force attack against one council member over this issue. It is clear that he made up a ridiculous proposal for the sole purpose of finding a campaign issue to go after Steve Fassel. I hope the voters see Jose for what he is a circus clown that has very ambitious personal, political and monetary goals. His attacks against Mr Fassel are sickening – I believe it’s to create a campaign issue for Ryan Rueles to run on- let’s hope the voters see what’s going on here.

  7. Two things, now that I re-read this:

    Your post accurately says “That iteration of the rule, dating back to the Clinton Administration, prohibited the INS from considering the broad range …”

    Lucille Kring, at Tuesday’s meeting said (as quoted by the Voice of OC but I heard it in person too), “This iteration dates back to the (President Bill) Clinton administration. I know many people have a problem with (President Donald) Trump … but he (Clinton) started this, it goes back a long way.”

    When Lucille comes to this blog for her talking points, somebody needs to explain your sentences to her, and maybe even what the word “iteration” means.

  8. And speaking of reading comprehension, or probably just good plain old disingenuousness:

    YOU quote from Jose’s resolution, as a grand example of his “wild inaccuracies”: “under the proposed public charge test, more than 100 million people – about one-third of the total U.S. population – would fail the public-charge determination if they were required to take it today.”

    And you pounce on that (true) claim, protesting that there are nowhere near 100 million people trying to get green cards in this country.

    Do I really have to point out to you and your readers the disconnect here? I will if I have to. But Jose’s claim is true. Hint: it refers to all Americans, duh.

    • If I misread it, so be it. Perhaps the councilman might try being a little clearer. He also might try making a point that’s relevant.

      Let’s assume Moreno is correct that 100 million American citizens would fail the revised public charge test. That’s a negative commentary on the extent to which our citizens depend on the welfare state – and irrelevant to the public charge rule, which applies not to citizens, but to immigrants seeking legal status. If this country wants to give preference to immigrants who are not primarily dependent on taxpayer support, that is our right and a legitimate policy goal. Do you disagree?

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