California Files Suit Against Trump’s Public Charge Rule
Immigration reform measures seem to be appearing daily in the news. Most recently, there have been some strong reactions to the Trump administration announcing a new rule that would deny legal permanent status to immigrants who use public benefits or who are determined to likely use them in the future. Advocacy groups and states, such as California, have voiced their stringent opposition to this rule and have even filed lawsuits to fight it. They fear that such a policy would have far-reaching implications including placing lawful permanent residents and even those who are U.S. citizens of fear of applying for or continuing to receive much needed public benefits to which they are entitled.
Trump Administration Announces Rule Regarding Immigrants and Public Benefits
California filed suit on August 16th in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Trump Administration rule aimed at denying lawful permanent status to immigrants who use or would be likely to use public benefits. Other plaintiffs to the suit include Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs to the suit assert that the rule not only violates the Fifth Amendment equal protection clause but is also arbitrary and capricious as well as contrary to law.
Essentially, such a rule would make it much more difficult for low socioeconomic status immigrants to change their legal status or obtain a green card. The California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra deemed the new policy to be cruel saying it would place families in a position of foregoing basic living necessities out of fear of immigration-related repercussions. Others have called out the rule as a wealth test with racial motivations. However, the Trump Administration stands by the rule, making it clear that the U.S. welcomes immigrants who are “self-sufficient” to remain in the country.
The rule, set to take effect mid-October, requires immigrants to prove they are unlikely to need public benefits presently or in the future. Public benefits would include things like food stamps, public housing assistance, and Medicaid. The rule could also ban immigrants who have received a certain amount of assistance from approval. Current immigration law does bar immigrants who are likely to become public charges from changing or renewing immigration status, but the new rule goes much further. The new rule defines a public charge as an immigrant who has personally benefited from one public benefit for 12 months during a 36-month time frame. The government estimates that the new rule will affect 382,000 people. Critics of the rule claim that many more will be affected as millions of immigrants would be placed in fear of jeopardizing their status by accessing public assistance.
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Posted in: Immigration Law