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Federal Judge In N.Y. Blocks Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Rule On Green Cards

Under the rule, officials would weigh whether a green card applicant will be self-sufficient. The rule had been set to go into effect on Oct. 15. It’s now blocked by a preliminary injunction.

A federal judge in New York issued an injunction Friday against a Trump Administration rule that would make it harder for low-income immigrants to get a green card. Trump is seen here leaving the White House last week.

A federal judge in New York has issued a temporary injunction against the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, preventing the rule from taking effect on Oct. 15.

The controversial rule would make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards if it looks like they might need public assistance. Titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” the rule sparked several legal challenges.

Under the rule, U.S. immigration officials who decide whether an immigrant should be granted a green card would weigh whether the applicant will be self-sufficient. Among the factors the officials would use is whether the applicant is already using public benefits like food stamps, housing subsidies and cash assistance.

Judge George B. Daniels, of the Southern District of New York, ruled on Friday afternoon that the plaintiffs — five organizations that work to aid immigrants, as well as the governments of New York state, New York City, Connecticut and Vermont — are likely to succeed in their claims against the Trump administration.

“The balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction,” Daniels wrote as he granted the request.

The rule, which the administration announced this summer, is being challenged in several federal courts by immigrants’ rights groups and more than a dozen state attorneys general. Opponents argue that the rule discriminates against low-income immigrants and immigrants of color by imposing tough new standards on those seeking legal permanent residency in the United States. They note that the public charge policy has been in place for over a century, but the new requirements would favor wealthier immigrants.

Under the new rule, immigration officials would consider a number of factors when deciding if someone should be denied a green card because they might become a public charge, or burden, on society.

For example, if an individual earns less than 125 percent of the poverty level, that would be held against them. If they can’t speak English or have large debts, that would also count against them. If they use food stamps, housing assistance or Medicaid, that too would be held against them.

The Trump administration argues that the rule is only clarifying existing law, saying it believes immigrants who want to stay in the U.S. should be able to support themselves and not rely on government aid. The administration also argues that safety-net programs are needed to aid U.S. citizens and there is not enough money to provide additional benefits.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, summarized the administration’s position on NPR’s Morning Edition by paraphrasing the Emma Lazarus poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Cuccinelli, who is named in the lawsuit, said the inscription should read instead: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

Confusion around the new policy has spurred many immigrants to drop benefits unnecessarily, even before the rule was set to take effect. Opponents say the administration’s proposed rule could have a devastating impact on public health and impose huge costs on local and state governments.

A study by the Urban Institute found that one in seven adults in immigrant families avoided participating in a public benefit program in 2018 due to fear of risking future green card status.

The rule is just one in a series of efforts by the White House to limit both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S.

Last week, President Trump signed a proclamation barring the entry of legal immigrants who cannot prove they will have health care coverage or the means to pay for it within 30 days of their arrival to the U.S. Under that proclamation, starting Nov. 3, only immigrants who can show they can pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs” or are already covered by approved health insurance would be allowed to enter the U.S.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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