Legal Aid Society


Immigrant Rights Advocates File First Federal Lawsuit to Block Interrelated “Public Charge” Rules

Today, immigrant rights advocates in New York filed Make the Road New York v. Pompeo, the first federal lawsuit seeking to jointly block three interrelated “Public Charge” rules promulgated by the Trump Administration, reportsThe Washington Post. These rules seek, independently and together, to wholly transform the United States’ long-standing family-based immigration system, which allows all immigrants to seek a new and better life in the United States regardless of their means, into a system that favors the wealthy and discriminates against people of color. These radical proposed changes violate the immigration statutes and the constitution.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. Court of the Southern District of New York by The Legal Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Immigration Law Center, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, on behalf of Make the Road New York (MRNY), African Services Committee (ASC), Central American Refugee Center New York (CARECEN-NY), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS), and five individual plaintiffs.

The lawsuit challenges the legality of the following three rules:

I. The Department of State (DOS) January 3, 2018 changes to the public charge provisions of its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which governs consular processing, which led to a twelve-fold increase in visa denials, largely against nonwhite immigrants;

II. The DOS October 11, 2019 Interim Final Rule, which changes the public charge regulations that pertain at the point of consular processing and would require DOS to apply the same enjoined DHS “public charge” criteria to immigrants who must undergo consular processing before entering the country to unify with their parents, children, and spouses;

III. The “Presidential Proclamation Suspending the Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the Health Care System,” issued on October 4, 2019, which would bar entry to any immigrant who cannot demonstrate the ability to obtain certain types of private health insurance within 30 days of arrival.

“Public charge has meant people wholly unable to take care of themselves for over 100 years in the U.S., not members of working families who may use government benefits to supplement their income. We will not allow Trump’s xenophobic interpretation to proliferate across the nation,” said Susan Welber, Staff Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “We will challenge every new attempt to redefine public charge, and consequently, the very fabric of this country, and look forward to fighting in court on behalf of our clients and all low-income noncitizens and their families.”

Read the full complaint here.