Three federal judges block new public charge rule

Three federal judges today temporarily blocked implementation of the Trump Administration's new rule intended to declare immigrants inadmissible to the United States if there was a likelihood that they could become a public charge. The new rule was to go into effect on October 15, 2019.

The jurists' decision was in response to several lawsuits seeking to prevent modifications to the inadmissibility regulations.

The judges ruled that the new rule on public charge would cause many people to refrain from applying for and receiving public benefits for fear that it would affect their immigration status. This would also cause large funding losses to states, including federal subsidies for people enrolled in Medicaid or MediCal.

In making their ruling, they determined that the plaintiffs could prevail on the claims for several reasons, including the likelihood that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's new definition of "public charge" is outside the bounds of a reasonable interpretation of the statute. In addition, they opined that the plaintiffs could show that the Trump Administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously under U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution, and that the states would be irreparably harmed if the federal government implements the new rule.

You can read the judges' decisions by clicking on the links below:

Opinion and Order of Judge George B. Danielsof the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Opinion and Order of Judge Rosanna M. Petersonof the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington

Opinion and Order of Judge Phyllis J. Hamiltonof the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Judge Daniels' and Judge Peterson's temporary injunctions have nationwide effect. Judge Hamilton's temporary block is only in effect in California, Oregon, Maine, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Meaning of decisions and advice

For the time being, the Trump Administration will not be able to implement the new public charge rule. However, litigation will continue and the federal government is expected to appeal the decisions.

Every immigrant who intends to apply for immigration benefits should be evaluated by an experienced and licensed U.S. immigration attorney to determine his or her legal options before beginning any proceedings. This is necessary to determine if the person meets all the requirements, including not being a public charge to the United States.

No one who is receiving public benefits should stop using them for fear of the new public charge rule. Anyone who has received, is receiving, or plans to apply for public benefits in the United States should check with the state office responsible for administering those services where they live to determine their eligibility. Never lie on your applications for public benefits, including hiding assets or income.

I remind you that the new law on public charge has several exemptions and does not apply to U.S. citizens.. It also does not apply to persons applying for permanent residence through humanitarian benefits, asylum seekers, special immigrant juveniles (SIJS), certain victims of human trafficking (T nonimmigrant T visa), victims of qualified criminal activity (U nonimmigrant U visa), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others.

If in doubt, consult with an immigration attorney before canceling or discontinuing your application for public benefits.