Attorney General James Announces Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Over Public Charge Rule

Attorney General James Announces Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Over Public Charge Rule

NEW YORK — Attorney General Letitia James today announced a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule, a new rule that 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 suit, filed in the Southern District of New York and joined by the States of Connecticut and Vermont and the City of New York, challenges the Trump Administration’s attempt to specifically target immigrants of color, while putting these communities at risk.

“Generations of citizens landed on the welcoming shores of Ellis Island with nothing more than a dream in their pockets,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “The Trump Administration’s thinly veiled efforts to only allow those who meet their narrow ethnic, racial and economic criteria to gain a path to citizenship is a clear violation of our laws and our values. Quite simply, under this rule, more children will go hungry, more families will go without medical care and more people will be living in the shadows and on the streets. We cannot and we will not let that happen.”

"The ultimate city of immigrants will never stop fighting President Trump’s xenophobic policies," said Mayor de Blasio. "We are proud to join the Attorney General and let our immigrant brothers and sisters know New York stands united behind them. When you mess with our neighbors, you mess with all of us. To the President, we’ll see you in court."

“The new ‘public charge’ rule creates fear, confusion, and distress for our immigrant communities,” said NYC Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter. “The new rule broadens the definition of a public charge, increasing the number of non-citizens who may be found inadmissible, denied a green card, or denied a visa on public charge grounds. As a result of this new rule, families may forego benefits and services to which they are legally entitled because they fear that accepting those benefits or services may jeopardize their ability or the ability of family members to stay in the United States. In this lawsuit, the City will challenge the new rule on the grounds that it violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution. The City will defend immigrant New Yorkers from this unlawful expansion of the public charge rule.”

In the suit, the coalition argues that 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.