Joe Biden Pledges To Undo Trump’s Public Charge Rule As Part Of Coronavirus Action Plan

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled an action plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which includes reversing the Trump administration’s public charge rule for immigrants.

While Biden delivered a national address Thursday, taking shots at President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, his campaign rolled out a comprehensive plan on how to combat the spread of the novel virus. Included in the action plan was a slate of proposals, such as free public testing and the formation of emergency funds.

Also in the former vice president’s plan: a pledge to undo the Trump administration’s public charge rule, which makes it harder for foreign nationals to qualify for permanent status in the U.S. if they have a history of using government-funded benefits.

Biden would reverse “the Trump Administration public charge rule, which places new, burdensome restrictions on documented immigrants who receive public benefits and discourages all immigrants from seeking health care services for COVID-19,” reads a section of the plan.

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Speak At The Iowa AFL-CIO Convention

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Federation Labor Convention on August 21, 2019 in Altoona, Iowa. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

“The cost of preventive care, treatment, and a potential vaccine could be an insurmountable economic barrier for many Americans,” an earlier portion of the plan reads.

The public charge rule, first introduced by the Trump administration in August 2019, has been met with fierce opposition by progressive and immigrant-rights groups. However, after two separate Supreme Court victories, the rule was able to go into effect throughout the entire country in late February.

Under the rule, permanent status can be denied to applicants who have a history of using government-funded benefits and deemed a “public charge” on the U.S. government. Such programs include food stamps, Medicaid, cash assistance, Section 8 housing or other government-funded benefits. (RELATED: ‘Xenophobia’: Joe Biden Criticizes Trump For Calling Coronavirus A ‘Foreign Virus’)

The rule has not been scientifically linked to the spread of COVID-19, but the Biden campaign appears to believe it is scaring foreign nationals from getting tested and treated.

“If we fail to remove this barrier, we will be turning our backs on these Americans in a time of crisis, and putting all Americans at risk by discouraging people from getting necessary testing and treatment,” his plan reads.

Since launching his presidential campaign, Biden has inched leftward on the issue of immigration. The former vice president — who oversaw the deportation of roughly 3 million illegal aliens during the Obama administration — has not only pledged to undo a number of Trump-led immigration initiatives, but has also vowed to place a 100-day moratorium on all deportations.

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