The rule was intended to prevent immigrants on assistance programs from entering the country.
Last January, the US Supreme Court passed a rule from the Trump Administration stating that immigrants to the country seeking green cards would not be granted them if they were currently utilizing any sort of assistance program like food stamps. The Administration claimed this would prevent those who cannot remain self-sufficient from entering the country and utilizing US resources. The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, in association with Cook County, Illinois, filed a suit to block the rule last year, and yesterday, the case finally crossed the desk of U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman.
Judge Feinerman officially ruled in favor of the ICIRR and Cook County, moving to block the Trump Administration’s rule. According to Feinerman, the rule is in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the process through which federal agencies develop and determine assistance programs. The rule deems those trying to obtain a green card while using benefits as a “public charge,” or a burden on the country’s resources.
According to the ICIRR, the usage of the term is too ambiguous to be useful. Immigrants rights activists also chimed in on the matter, saying that withholding a green card over assistance programs effectively forces someone to choose between immigration and maintaining their own health. This would also have the side effect of forcing these theoretical unassisted immigrants to use emergency care for their health needs instead of preventative care.
While Judge Feinerman rules primarily in Illinois, his decision will affect the implementation of the rule in the entire country. For the time being, the rule will no longer be in effect.
“As we all continue to be impacted by COVID-19, it is vital that no one is fearful of accessing health care,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “The court’s decision to block enforcement of the Public Charge Rule re-opens doors for immigrants to access vital services like health care.”