Three federal district judges in New York, California, and Washington issued temporary injunctions on October 11 blocking the Trump administration’s public charge rule from taking effect on October 15. A fourth federal judge in Chicago issued a similar injunction on October 14.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the final version of the new public charge rule on August 12. The rule changes how the federal government screens immigrants who might become dependent on government services, or “public charges.” Agencies may deny immigrants a visa or a green card under the rule if they have used food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, or other public benefits.
The rule amends a guidance document issued in 1999 stipulating that only public cash assistance or long-term institutionalization at government expense qualified as evidence that an immigrant was at risk of being a public charge and could be denied legal status. The new rule expands the factors agencies may consider when deciding those cases.
Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, New York City, the Cook County government, and immigrant aid organizations formed coalitions that filed four separate lawsuits aiming to prevent the implementation of the rule.
The judges—Judge George Daniels of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, and Judge Gary Feinerman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois—argued that the rule was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, failed to consider potential costs to state and local governments, and constituted an unsupported congressional delegation of authority to DHS, among other claims.
The White House and USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli issued separate statements on October 11 expressing disappointment with the decisions. “An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law,” Cuccinelli stated.