Attorney General Karl A. Racine today joined a coalition of five Attorneys General led by California in filing a motion for preliminary injunction to block the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Public Charge Rule from taking effect while litigation continues. The final rule targets working immigrants and their families by creating unnecessary new barriers to lawful admission to the United States. Further, the rule discourages eligible immigrants and their families from accessing critical health, nutrition, and housing programs that supplement their modest incomes and help them make ends meet. This rule jeopardizes the well-being of hardworking families, including women, children, people with disabilities, and seniors.
Public benefit programs are designed to help families make ends meet. Current guidance by the federal government defines a public charge as a person who is primarily dependent on either public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutional long-term care at the government’s expense. The rule declares that use of additional non-cash government benefits including healthcare through Medicaid, nutrition and food support through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing for families through Section 8 housing assistance will weigh heavily against immigrants in a public charge determination. The rule would discourage eligible immigrant and mixed immigration-status families, who are not otherwise subject to the rule, from applying for benefits that they need, and for which they are legally eligible. The rule will make it harder for low- and moderate-income immigrants to get green cards or change or extend their visas.
A study by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that, under current rules, approximately 1 percent of the District’s non-citizen residents are at risk of being labeled an inadmissible “public charge.” But under the Trump administration’s new rule, due to take effect in October, nearly one-third of non-citizen District residents who are lawfully in the country would be at risk of being deemed a “public charge,” and thus ineligible to legally remain here or become legal permanent residents.
On August 16, 2019, AG Racine joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Becerra in filing a lawsuit claiming the rule will have a chilling effect that will discourage many other immigrants, who are not otherwise subject to the rule, from accessing benefits that they need and are eligible for and entitled to.
A copy of the motion is available here: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-08/Public-Charge-MPI.pdf