AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Welcomes End to Trump Administration’s Public Charge “Wealth Test”

3/10/21 AILA Doc. No. 21031034.

Belle Woods, AILA,, 202-507-7675
Julie A. Fei, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP,, 714-830-0684

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Biden administration ended the attempt started in 2019 by then-President Trump to bar immigrants by way of a “wealth test” known as the public charge rule. The news was met with relief and welcome by those seeking lawful permanent residence, their sponsors, and immigrant and civil rights groups, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA.) AILA had joined litigation against the USCIS’ Policy Manual and form changes implementing the public charge rule which contained a complex and contradictory set of rules and invasive information disclosures designed to prevent immigrants from becoming lawful permanent residents. The law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (“Morgan Lewis”) served as pro bono co-counsel on that lawsuit.

Jesse Bless, Director of Federal Litigation for AILA stated, “In my private life as an attorney I have seen, first-hand, the anxiety and severe fear that the public charge rule has caused to many families. In my role at AILA, I have also witnessed the confusion it instilled in brilliant attorneys struggling to advise their clients regarding the public charge rule and its implications. I am grateful for everyone who collectively fought to see the battle against this unjust rule through to victory.”

Eleanor Pelta, past AILA president and partner at Morgan Lewis, stated, “Sadly, the public charge regulation caused immigrants of all statuses to forego health care and vital economic support out of fear of jeopardizing their ability to apply for lawful permanent status. Mothers and fathers shied away from assistance that their families were eligible for because of this rule, adding additional stress and concern during a pandemic and economic downturn. It is an immense relief that the Biden administration has seen the harm done and stopped fighting this irrational battle.”