Attorney General James Continues Challenge Of Trump Administration's Public Charge Rule

AG James Seeks Preliminary Injunction to Stop New Rule from Taking Effect October 15th 

NEW YORK — Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion to seek a preliminary injunction to stop the Trump Administration’s public charge rule from going into effect. The new rule aims to deny green cards and visas to immigrants that use or have used government assistance programs. Such a rule would have short- and long-term impacts on public health and the economy. The initial lawsuit, filed in August 2019 in the Southern District of New York and joined by the City of New York and the States of Connecticut and Vermont, challenges the Trump Administration’s attempt to specifically target immigrants of color, while putting these communities at risk.

“We will not allow the Trump Administration to enact rules that violate the laws and the values of this country,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “If enforced, the public charge rule will not only sow fear and chaos into the lives of immigrants working to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, but will have an adverse impact on the heath and wellbeing of New Yorkers, and individuals across this country. This rule is dangerous, disruptive, and should not be permitted to take effect.”

The preliminary injunction seeks to stop the public charge rule from taking effect on October 15, 2019, arguing that it would irreparably harm millions of noncitizens and their family members by deterring them from accessing public benefits they are lawfully entitled to receive, causing tremendous economic, public health, and other harms.The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new public charge definition disregards clear congressional intent and a century’s worth of case law holding that immigrants who use basic, non-cash benefits are not considered public charges because they are not primarily dependent on the government. Additionally, the public charge rule weaponizes the public charge inquiry to specifically target immigrants of color, immigrants with disabilities, and low-income immigrants. Finally, the rule fundamentally misunderstands that these non-cash programs are designed to help immigrants who arrive in this country with limited means move out of poverty and achieve upward mobility.

The overall health and wellbeing of New York’s immigrant communities that use vital public benefit programs will be negatively impacted by the new rule. Additionally, with the anticipated decline in Medicaid enrollment, individuals who would have otherwise had access to healthcare are at risk of living with undiagnosed and untreated conditions. Economically, impacted communities can be expected to experience increased poverty rates, housing instability, a reduced workforce, and an overall decrease in total economic productivity.

This case is being handled by Senior Trial Counsel Elena Goldstein, Civil Enforcement Section Chief of the Labor Bureau Ming-Qi Chu, and Assistant Attorneys General Abigail Rosner, Amanda Meyer, and Ajay Saini, under the supervision of Chief Counsel for Federal Initiatives Matthew Colangelo.