Liable to become a Public Charge (LPC)

Liable to become a Public Charge (LPC)

Liable to become a Public Charge is the term used in the United States to classify prospective immigrants who are denied entry due to their lack of sustainable living means. The term was first implemented in the Immigration Act of 1882.

Immigration Act of 1882

The Immigration Act of 1882 found immigrants who were unable to take care of themselves without becoming a public charge unsuitable for American citizenship and therefore denied their entry. In addition to LPC the act initiated a fifty cent head tax which would be used for bureaucratic processes. The act also denies entry of convicts.

Conditions for Denial

Individuals who have physical or mental ailments along with pregnant women are most likely to be proposed as a public charge. Immigrants who were found with physical or mental ailments were prospective for exclusion. Their ailments were seen to affect their ability to obtain employment and thus qualified them as a public charge.

Unmarried pregnant women seeking to migrate into the United States was presumed a public charge on account of their condition. These women were excluded from entry and were barred from arriving into the United States. It is noted that their condition presumed them as a public charge because no one would employ them and thus the government would initiate care for them.

In addition childrearing amongst immigrant women is also presumptive causes of public charge. Although support for children was legal undocumented women were denied legal citizenship due to the public assistance that their children received. In these cases and those of physical and mental ailments would render and obligation to government however, the government sought no obligation in this manner.

Immigrants who arrived with only twenty-five to forty dollars and with no source of employment were deemed liable to become a public charge. Immigrants were investigated through means of competent evidence.

Competent evidence includes the following;

  • Health
  • Family Assets
  • Financial Status
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Age

Case for Likely to be a Public Charge

Deportation due to public charge is likely with childbearing and pregnancy. In the case of Maria Gambacurta from Italy was charged to be deported because the hospital in which she was seeking care was supported through public funds.

Immigrants who had legally entered the United States but subsequently acquired any ailments that compromised their ability to earn a living were sought for deportation. These individuals had to leave within one year. Funds were distributed for their deportation by the Bureau of Immigration (Immigration Fund).

Isabel Gonzalez (Gonzalez v. Williams)

Isabel Gonzalez was determined as liable to become a public charge as a young, pregnant, and single Puerto Rican immigrant. She was denied entry into the United States despite the arguments made on her behalf by a fiancé and family members. Nevertheless, Gonzalez was able to argue her case to the U.S Supreme Court. Gonzalez did not argue her condition as likely to become a public charge; rather she challenged the state of Puerto Rican immigrants in America claiming citizenship. It was found that she would be considered not an alien under immigration but she would be determined a ‘noncitizen national’.


  1. Bray, Ilona M., and Carl Falstrom. U.S. Immigration Made Easy. Berkeley: NOLO, 2007. Print.
  2. Hall, Prescott F. Immigration and its Effects upon the United States. New York: General Books, LLC, 2009. Print.
  3. Luibheid, Eithne. Entry Denied Controlling Sexuality at the Border. New York: University of Minnesota, 2002. Print.