State Attorney General Letitia James addresses during Governor Andrew Cuomo inauguration for third term at Ellis Island – New York, NY – January 1, 2019 (Shutterstock)
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today helped to restore an injunction against the continued implementation of the Public Charge Rule that had been issued by the Trump Administration. The Public Charge Rule denied green cards and visas to immigrants that use or have used certain government assistance programs. The Biden-Harris Administration’s U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today agreed with the Office of the New York Attorney General (OAG) to dismiss the DOJ’s pending appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. That dismissal effectively lifted a previous stay that the Supreme Court had issued and restored a preliminary injunction against the Public Charge Rule that the OAG had successfully obtained in October 2019 and defended on appeal in August 2020.
“Today, we dismissed this case and restored the preliminary injunction that ensures that those living in New York and in other states do not have to choose between their immigration status and securing the necessary support to survive,” said Attorney General James. “Our immigrant neighbors seeking to make a better life for themselves deserve more than living in the shadows and on the streets, which is why the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule was nothing more than an egregious attempt to infringe upon the laws and the values of this nation. Quite simply, today, fewer children will go hungry and more families will get the medical care they desperately need. We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden-Harris Administration as we bring more immigrants out of the shadows and help rebuild our economy, as well as our nation’s public health.”
Federal law allows lawful immigrants to apply for certain supplemental health and nutritional public benefits if they have been in the country for at least five years. But, in August 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a Public Charge Rule that changed the established meaning of public charge, which had long been that immigrants who use certain supplemental benefits are not considered public charges because they are not primarily dependent on the government for survival. This “bait-and-switch” consequently jeopardized immigrants’ chances of becoming legal permanent residents or renewing their visas if they used the supplemental benefits to which they are legally entitled.
In August 2019, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit to block the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule. Soon after, in September 2019, Attorney General James filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which was granted by the district court in October 2019 and affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in August 2020. Until the dismissal today, that preliminary injunction had been stayed by the Supreme Court.
The attorneys general of Connecticut and Vermont, as well as corporation counsel for New York City all joined Attorney General James in filing this lawsuit.