The “public charge” doctrine – meaning that a person likely to have to be supported by taxpayers (a public charge) should not be permitted to immigrate – is one of the oldest elements of American immigration policy. Colonial Massachusetts enacted the earliest public charge law in 1645, while the first immigration law at the federal level, in 1882, likewise excluded immigrants who were likely to become a burden on taxpayers.

But then as now, the main question is how to define public charge.


Immigration has dominated headlines over the past week, and this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy brings together Center for Immigration Studies experts to analyze these issues. The roundtable discussion covers the recent federal court ruling on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the newly released border apprehension numbers for June, and the possibility of Senate passage of an amnesty via a budget “reconciliation” rule.

Robert Law, the Center’s director of regulatory affairs and policy, weighs-in on the federal court ruling on DACA, which created President Obama’s executive amnesty program that awarded work permits and Social Security numbers to illegal aliens. Although the judge found the program to be an “illegally implemented program,” he ruled that DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program, and his decision does not revoke work permits from the current DACA population. What are the implications of this decision? Will it be appealed?


The Biden administration recently granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to all Haitian illegal and legal aliens in the United States. TPS prevents the deportation of illegal aliens, but more importantly, it rewards them with work permits, drivers’ licenses, Social Security numbers, and the ability to travel abroad and return. Under the law, countries should only be designated for TPS due to (1) ongoing armed conflict; (2) an environmental disaster; or (3) extraordinary and temporary conditions, and it only applies if these conditions prevent the safe return of nationals.

Robert Law, the Center’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy, discusses the abuse of this statutory authority that has grown the TPS population to well over half a million illegal alien beneficiaries from 12 countries, whose “temporary” status is routinely renewed, sometimes for decades. Law also offers several recommendations on how, by regulation or by statute, limits can be placed on executive authority to provide amnesty-lite to aliens.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, kicks off a new podcast with a conversation about the immigration policy changes enacted by President Biden during his first 100 days in office. Krikorian and his guest, a former Chief of the Office of Policy and Strategy at USCIS, discuss the southern border, interior enforcement, welfare, and the travel ban. What a difference 100 days make!

Related Article: President Biden’s First 100 Days: Swift Action to Change Immigration Policy