The often-criticized rule would have meant that immigrants who received any public support – regardless of the reason – might not have the right to green cards or permanent residence.
Less than a day before the voting began, a Chicago federal judge pounded a controversial Trump administrative rule designed to prevent immigrants who have received public benefits from receiving green cards.
The Associated Press reports that US District Judge Gary Feinerman on Monday put down the rule and said it was in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The APA requires federal agencies to remain accountable to the public by outlining detailed procedures and explanations of the proposed ordinances.
As the AP notes – and as LegalReader has previously reported – Feinerman’s decision adds another layer of complexity to the already long and highly competitive case.
The so-called “public charge” rule has generated widespread criticism and can be viewed as one of the most aggressive anti-immigration measures of the Trump administration. While US law has long allowed citizenship and immigration officials to deny residence and other benefits to migrants who are a “burden” on American taxpayers, President Trump tried to redefine the definition of what exactly is a burden to expand.
Immigrants who have availed of a range of nonprofit programs – from grocery stamps to single mothers subsidies – could be banned from obtaining green cards or permanent legal residence indefinitely.
Fred Tsao, senior policy advisor to the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which filed the lawsuit alongside Cook County, said Trump’s proposed rule was an “attack” on legal immigration. Tsao also told The Associated Press that regardless of what happens November 3rd, he hopes the next presidential administration will take a more balanced and humane approach to immigration policy.
A US passport. Image by Ryan J. Farrick.
“We may or may not get a new administration,” said Tsao. “If we do, I’d like to see much of this damage undone and hopefully some legislative changes that actually benefit immigrants rather than scare them away.”
Cook County also stressed the importance of accessibility to public services amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“As we all continue to be affected by COVID-19, it is important that no one is afraid of access to health care,” Cook County’s chairman Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “The court’s decision to block enforcement of the public fee rule re-opens doors for immigrants to access vital services such as health care.”
The Associated Press notes that between January 5 and 4, the Supreme Court ruled that the rule can go into effect, even though the judges did not stop or override the lawsuits pending against it.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Dan Hetlage said the agency responsible for approving green card and residency applications will comply with Feinerman’s order.
“USCIS will fully comply with the decision and issue additional guidance while the agency reviews the decision,” said Hetlage.
Illinois federal judge clears immigration rule on public fees
US judge blocks Trump immigration rule for public services