WESTCHESTER, Calif. — As an undocumented immigrant and an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, Lizbeth Mateo is happy to see the Biden administration and Department of Homeland Security remove a Trump-era restriction from 2019 that could have disqualified immigrants using public benefits from gaining access to green cards.

"It's great to see that the public charge rule is no longer in effect," Mateo said. "But I know that a lot more needs to happen for us to access the rights that we deserve."

What You Need To Know

  • The Biden administration and DHS no longer enforce the Trump-era public charge rule disqualifying immigrants from green cards if they use public benefits

  • The public charge rule has reverted to a 1999 guideline based on government cash benefits and long-term care

  • One immigration lawyer is seeing a surge in calls — individuals sharing hesitancy in utilizing services

Mateo became an immigration attorney to help herself and her family better understand the immigration laws. With the change in the public charge rule now only applying to those using government cash benefits or long-term care, she is clearing the confusion and fear that certain undocumented immigrants still have.

"She wanted to know if she could apply for unemployment and whether her husband could apply for unemployment, or if she should just wait and see what happens because she doesn't want to affect their cases in the future. So I do get a lot of those questions, 'I just want to double-check,'" Mateo said.

That's why Mateo records informative live sessions on her social media, highlighting changes within immigration laws and answering questions people might have. She shared that each immigration case is unique. But it's important people utilize the benefits they need when they need them.

"Rules change. Laws change. The administrations change. Right now, at least for the next four years, I think we are going to be OK with the public charge rule not being implemented the way that the Trump administration wanted it implemented. But we don't know what's going to happen in the future," Mateo added.

With each change in immigration law, Mateo is hopeful that a renewed tone on immigration rights will lead to a clearer pathway for those seeking the American dream.