New Article: “Excluding ‘Undesirable’ Immigrants: Public Charge as Disability Discrimination”

New Article: Alessandra N. Rosales, Excluding ‘Undesirable’ Immigrants: Public Charge as Disability Discrimination, 119 Mich. L. Rev. 1613 (2021). Abstract below:

Public charge is a ground of inadmissibility based upon the likelihood that a noncitizen will become dependent on government benefits in the future. Once designated as a public charge, a noncitizen is ineligible to be admitted to the United States or to obtain lawful permanent residence. In August 2019, the Trump Administration published a regulation regarding this inadmissibility ground. Among its mandates, the rule expanded the definition of a public charge to include any noncitizen who receives one or more public benefits for more than twelve months in a thirty-six-month period It also instructed immigration officers to weigh medical conditions that “interfere” with the noncitizen’s ability to care for themselves in favor of finding the noncitizen to be a public charge. The rule prompted several legal challenges, including under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the predecessor to the Americans with Disabilities Act. While these claims address the core legal arguments of disability discrimination, the scope of violations should be viewed more broadly. This Comment assesses the public charge rule from a disability rights perspective, exploring the intersection between disability and immigration law, and concludes that immigrants with disabilities no longer had access to federal programs to which they were entitled, and consequently, access to the United States itself.

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