We could sure use the enforcement of this doctrine today.
What Is Public Charge Doctrine?
A “public charge” is someone who cannot provide for himself and thus relies on public assistance for a substantial part of his livelihood; it is someone who is a charge, or responsibility, of the public.6 Individuals who are deemed as likely to become charges of the public are excluded from entering the United States. If an immigrant becomes a public charge, he may be deported. With the rise of the welfare state in the United States since the Progressive Era, public assistance has increasingly come through the civil government; however, public aid historically had a heavy private sector, voluntary, charitable aspect.
The policy of excluding potential public charges seeks to ensure that individuals unable or unwilling to sustain themselves not burden society. It embodies the idea that an immigrant should be self-sufficient and contribute to the society granting him the privilege of becoming a new member. It is one of the conditions of the social contract. Immigration policy relates to the choosing among foreigners those whom a country will accept. Designating public charges as excludable rests within the rights of a sovereign nation to decide on those to whom to grant admission or the right to remain.
The chief goal of American immigration policy has always been to admit productive, self-reliant individuals who positively contribute to society. For instance, early goals of this country included settling frontiers and building commercial enterprises. Policymakers employed immigration to help reach these goals, largely limiting admission to able-bodied, responsible individuals. “Desirable” immigrants have been expected to pay taxes, exhibit republican virtues, and possess good moral character. Public charges fall under the category of “undesirables.” They put a drain on society, rather than contribute productively and positively to it.