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“Public Charge” Rule ENJOINED Nationwide

Friday afternoon saw the judicial hammer dropped, as the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a nationwide preliminary injuction against the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed “Public Charge” rule, which was set to take effect in mere days. A much welcome victory on the immigration front, the decision saw the United States District Judge absolutely tee-off on various aspects of the proposed rule, and its shaky legal jusitifcations. It is honestly a bit rare to see a federal judge issue such scathing rebukes of government action and government agency rulemaking, showing just how morally, legally, and ethically reprehensible and unconscionable the Public Charge rule truly was. Reading the opinion put a smile on the faces of immigration attorneys and immigration advocates across the country.


The full opinion can be found here. The U.S. Attorney arguing at the hearing for the government did not have a good time.


Relevant excerpts copied below:


“Upon review of the plain language of the INA, the history and common-law meaning of “public charge,” agency interpretation, and Congress’s repeated reenactment of the INA’s public charge provision without material change, one thing is abundantly clear–“public charge” has never been understood to mean receipt of 12 months of benefits within a 36-month period. Defendants admit that this a “new definition” under the Rule. […] And at oral argument, they did not dispute that this definition has never been referenced in the history of U.S. immigration law or that there is zero precedent supporting this particular definition.”


“At oral argument, Defendants were afforded numerous opportunities to articulate a rational basis for equating public charge with receipt of public benefits for 12 months within a 36-month period, particularly when this has never been the rule. Defendants failed each and every time.”


“Defendants’ suggestion that an individual is likely to become a public charge simply by virtue of her limited English proficiency is baseless, as one can certainly be a productive and self-sufficient citizen without knowing any English. The United States of America has no official language. Many, if not most, immigrants who arrived at these shores did not speak English. It is simply offensive to contend that English proficiency is a valid predictor of self-sufficiency.”


“In short, Defendants do not articulate why they are changing the public charge definition, why this new definition is needed now, or why the definition set forth in the Rule–which has absolutely no support in the history of U.S. immigration law–is reasonable. The Rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification. It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility. Immigrants have always come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their posterity. With or without help, most succeed.” (emphasis added)




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