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New Public Charges Rules Cannot Go into Effect

On Friday, October 11, 2019, three federal courts issued nationwide injunctions against the Trump Administration to stop the application of the public charge rules, which were set to start on October 15 at noon. The three courts issued the decisions almost simultaneously. The public charge rules were designed to make it extremely difficult for working class and low income families to obtain status in the USA by penalizing them for not having achieved certain educational levels, not having language fluency, not having investments, being disabled or too young or old, staying home rather than working, not having credit or having bad credit, not owning property, and numerous other criteria designed to prefer educated, financially empowered, healthy, and young immigrants. 

Based on the three court decisions below, the public charge rules are stopped until the various suits against the Administration run their course – unless a higher court decides otherwise. This means that individuals pursuing changes of status and extensions of status in the USA can continue without the additional concerns until further notice. It is unclear whether the Department of State, which had published last week a public charge rule of its own for use by consulates, will withdraw those new rules in light of these three court rulings.

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Understanding immigration in the United States is complex and difficult, especially with the frequent changes. Get the help you need so that your immigration journey can go as smoothly as possible. The Atlanta immigration attorneys at Antonini & Cohen have many years of experience helping immigrants like you. Our clients say we treat them like family, and it shows in how we recognize that each situation is different and requires the proper attention to detail and careful planning. Call us at 404-850-9394 or contact us online to schedule an appointment so that we can assist you with your immigration questions today.

The First Court Decision – U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington

The first decision came from the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington. The States of Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, and the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Virginia sued the Trump Administration. The court ordered the injunction for a variety of reasons, but it focused on the complexity of the rule and the totality of circumstances test. It noted that the public charge rules would result in inconsistent results depending on the individual adjudicating officer. It would create fear and confusion among the community and have a chilling effect on individuals. In addition, it would promote a message of barriers towards legalization. The court noted that Congress had passed laws regarding welfare, and there had been numerous regulations from the agency. It referred to statutes and rules from 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2013, with the current rules being a drastic departure. The court was critical of the Administration for not citing “… any statute, legislative history, or other resource” in support of their assertion that Congress gave them power to define self-sufficiency, public charge, and welfare. They also contrasted the Administration’s lack of substantive argument with the extensive body of laws cited by the lawyers of the 13 states suing the Administration.

The Second Court Decision – U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

The second decision came from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, which was filed by the City of New York and the States of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. That court granted the injunction and held that the Trump Administration “fail[ed] to provide any reasonable explanation for changing the definition of public charge.” The court wrote: “At oral argument, Defendants were afforded numerous opportunities to articulate a rational basis for equating public charge with the 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.” The court also scoffed at the government’s argument that