Re: Public charge #general
Annette Stolberg asked about the meaning of "Public Charge" in connection with
the exclusion of aliens >from entry into the US on the ground that they are
likely to become a public charge. Specifically, she asked, "was 'PC' a legal
term, referring to being supported by the State of Massachusetts" (the context
in which her question arose).
The exclusion of persons likely to become a public charge goes back to the
Immigration Act of 1882. The relevant provision stated that if the immigration
officer's examination of passengers "found among such passengers any convict,
lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to care for himself or herself without
becoming a public charge, ... such persons shall not be permitted to land."
That Act provided no definition of "public charge." However, the public charge
doctrine was continued and strengthened in several subsequent immigration acts,
and remains in force today.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Service has issued a "Public Charge Fact
Sheet" (accessible at
summarizes the various provisions of the current Immigration and Nationality
Act, and related regulations, with regard to public charge. Included in that
fact sheet are a definition of "public charge" and the types of benefits that
are subject to being considered a public charge. Among them are "state or local
cash assistance programs for income maintenance."
Researching: KATZ (Novograd-Volynsk, Ukraine and Boston, Mass.); TEPPER
(Novograd-Volynsk and Rovno (Rivne), Ukraine, and New York City); KAPLAN
(Stakliskes, Lithuania, and central Mass.); KABACHNIK (Butrymonis, Lithuania);
VITKIN (Kaunas, Lithuania, and Boston,Mass.); GREENBERG/BLOCH, Vilna, Lithuania,
and Boston, Mass.); BLUM, LEVINE (Boston, Mass.)