State Attorneys General Sue To Block New Immigration Rule
The attorneys general from 13 states filed a lawsuit this week to block a new Trump administration rule that makes it harder for immigrants receiving public assistance to get green cards for permanent residency.
The lawsuit is pending in federal court in the state of Washington.
The attorneys general say the Immigration and Naturalization Service rule violates federal immigration law.
The new rule published Monday says anyone likely to become a “public charge” is disqualified from gaining status as a permanent resident or entering the United States legally.
“Wealth has never been, and should not now be, the primary determinant of an immigrant’s status in America,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “The ‘public charge’ rule is unlawful and un-American and it jeopardizes the health and welfare of children and families.”
Previously, foreign citizens who received non-cash benefits like food stamps or Medicaid were not considered public charges, only the ones receiving welfare. The new rule adds non-cash benefits as a disqualifier.
The lawsuit invoked authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which Congress enacted in 1965 to eliminate discrimination that favored western and northern European immigrants.
Until 1965, immigration rights were determined by the National Origins Formula, which State Department officials say was intended “to preserve the ideal of American [Northwestern European] homogeneity.” Congress approved it in 1924.
The 1965 law instead gave priority to relatives of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as professionals and other persons with specialized skills. It greatly increased the number of immigrants from Asia and Africa.
Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli disagreed during a White House press briefing this week that the new rule that takes effect Oct. 15 is different from previous policy.
He said the rule puts “meat on the bones” of current immigration law by broadening the definition of a public charge.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful in America,” Cuccinelli said.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not plan to consider benefits received before Oct. 15 as a factor in determining green card eligibility, Cuccinelli said.
The states’ attorneys general said the new rule will place an added burden on their local economies and is unfair to some residents.
“The new rule will cause immigrants to dis-enroll from important benefits programs, harming immigrant families, imposing increased costs on states and undercutting state policies and programs,” the attorneys general said in a statement. “This reduction in enrollment in state and federal health benefits programs will inflict increased costs on states and worsen health outcomes on state populations.”
The attorneys general seek a declaratory judgment to invalidate the rule and an injunction to prevent the federal government from enforcing it.
Their lawsuit is one of several against the Trump administration’s rule this week. The first was filed by two northern California counties that argue the rule exceeds the authority of the government to deny benefits to immigrant residents.
The City and County of San Francisco and Santa Clara County said in their lawsuit that the rule denies benefits to persons “primarily dependent on the government for support.”
They also said the counties would be forced to pay for their health care if they are not eligible for medical assistance.
The attorneys general represent the states of Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
The case is State of Washington et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al, case number 4:19-cv-05210, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
In The News
President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, by executive order in 2012, a federal judge ruled Friday. But U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, presiding in the federal court in Houston, stopped short of immediately vacating the program. Instead... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats and immigration advocates are staring at their best chance in years to overcome Republican opposition and give millions of people in the U.S. without legal authorization a way to become citizens. Their goal is to stuff the language into a huge... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden called for bipartisan action on a pathway to citizenship for some migrants during a naturalization ceremony Friday at the White House in which he celebrated the contributions immigrants have made to the U.S. "We need an immigration system that both... Read More
In California, undocumented immigrants over the age of 50 will soon be able to sign up for Medi-Cal, the state's low-income health care program. The update is just one of the expansions included in the state budget, which also has spending increases for a range of... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — At the invitation of Donald Trump, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks recently led a small group of House Republicans to the former president's New Jersey golf club, where they dined on beef tenderloin, posed for photos and briefed him on strategy for the 2022... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris faces perhaps the most politically challenging moment of her vice presidency Friday when she visits the U.S. southern border as part of her role leading the Biden administration's response to a steep increase in migration. While in El Paso, Texas, she... Read More