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Verdicts & Settlements

Appeals Court Upholds Block on Trump Administration’s Anti-Immigrant “Public Charge” Rule

— January 9, 2020

The 2nd Court of Appeals gave new life to one of the rule’s few-remaining challenges.

A federal appeals court has blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its so-called “public charge” rule, which restricts immigrants who receive public benefits from receiving or extending legal status in the United States.

NBC News reports that the decision was issued by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday. The court’s short order denied the administration’s request to lift a nationwide injunction, made by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which is preventing the policy from taking effect.

The controversial “public charge” rule is, more than anything, a re-envisioning of existing law. For decades, the U.S. government has had the power to restrict entrance and residency to migrants who might prove themselves a burden upon the nation’s tax base.

However, under President Trump, the “public charge” rule was broadened, intended to curtail the issuance of green cards for a wide range of infractions. Migrants who availed any sort of public benefits—ranging from Medicaid to food stamps and housing vouchers—might find themselves either denied entry to U.S. or ineligible to receive work permits, permanent residency or citizenship.

image of a legal gavel and books
Legal gavel and books; image courtesy of
succo via Pixabay,

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was one of several courts which issued an injunction against the policy shortly before it was due to take effect in October.

“[The public charge rule] will punish individuals for their receipt of benefits provided by our government, and discourages them from lawfully receiving available assistance intended to aid them in becoming contributing members of our society,” wrote U.S. District Judge George Daniels in his October ruling.

Daniels also called the public charge rule “repugnant to the American dream.”

But many other courts’ challenges to the rule have since failed or been lifted. A regional injunction in California was recently removed, along with a national hold enacted by a Washington court.

While an order in Illinois still stands, it applies only to that state.

But the 2nd Circuit Court’s three-judge panel didn’t budge. The Associated Press reports that the panel appeared skeptical of the administration’s claims, asking why the injunction needed to be lifted now, when the lawsuit itself will be heard by a judge in several months.

The court’s decision to keep the injunction in place, at least for now, is a victory for immigration advocates and activists—many of whom have said the Trump administration is intentionally trying to keep low-income immigrants out of the United States.

“Today, the court rejected the Trump administration’s claims that it cannot wait to implement its dangerous and discriminatory public charge policy,” said the team spearheading the lawsuit, led by Make the Road New York, The Legal Aid Society and the Center for Constitutional Rights.”

“We look forward to continuing our fight in court until a final decision is reached on the legality of the charge rule, and we are thrilled immigrants across the country remain protected,” they added.


Appeals court keeps block of Trump immigration rule in place

Federal appeals court upholds bar on Trump’s public charge rule

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