Baltimore says the Trump administration’s “public charge” rules is meant to keep out immigrants of certain ethnic backgrounds.
A federal judge has given the green light to a Baltimore city lawsuit that accuses the Trump administration of building its immigration policies atop a clear “racial animus.”
According to The Baltimore Sun, the call for continuity was granted late last week by U.S. District Court Judge Ellen L. Hollander. In her 82-page opinion, Hollander referenced some of Trump’s most controversial remarks, including the contentious claims that all Haitian migrants “have AIDS” and that Nigerians allowed into the United States would “never go back to their huts.”
“The City’s Complaint alleges facts sufficient to nudge from conceivable to plausible the allegation that the President harbors racial animus and that he played a role in the creation” of State Department visa-policy overhauls, said Hollander.
Baltimore’s lawsuit, says the Sun, stems from policy changes made last year. In its never-ending bid to clamp down on immigration, the administration decided to change the way the State Department evaluates requests for visa issuances and renewals. By tweaking and re-emphasizing what’s called the “public charge rule,” officials could exclude applicants who’ve ever used public benefits from continuing to live or work in the United States.
While the government has always had a justifiable interest in ensuring that migrants don’t become a “net drain” on the economy, the Trump administration is taking regulations to another level. According to Baltimore, migrants have even shied away from Medicaid—many afraid that health benefits could put their visas and their family’s future in the U.S. at risk.
With migrants shying away from federal entitlements, Baltimore contends, the responsibility for their care falls upon states and local governments ill-suited for the task.
The lawsuit charges Trump and his administration with harboring “animus towards immigrants, particularly those from Latin American, Asian, and African countries, and those who accept public benefits.”
Attorneys for the administration were hoping to see the suit dismissed, arguing that Trump shouldn’t be named as a plaintiff because it was the State Department, rather than him, who changed the policy.
However, Hollander cited previous rulings in hers, noting that cabinet officials—who can be hired or fired by the President at any time—aren’t free from White House politicking.
“In other words,” Hollander said, “the bucks stops with the President.”
Baltimore issued a statement praising the decision.
“We are gratified that the Court acted with enviable courage in calling out explicitly the race-based foundations of our claims,” said Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis. “The court clearly recognized at this stage of the case the validity of our claims that the Trump Administration’s actions are invidiously unlawful and that we are entitled to a full opportunity to conduct discovery in order to reveal, with compelling proof, the real harm being done to the City.”
The Sun notes that the lawsuit is being supported by a coalition comprised of 19 states and 17 other cities and counties.