Wednesday, 16 October, 2019

Judge blocks Trump immigration rule, calls it 'repugnant to American Dream'

Judge George Daniels' Friday ruling came just days before the so-called Enlarge Image President Donald Trump Getty Images
Gustavo Carr | 12 October, 2019, 07:37

A federal judge on Friday blocked a Trump administration rule that makes it more hard for immigrants who rely on public assistance to obtain legal status, just days before the regulation was set to take effect.

In August, the states of New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York City filed a lawsuit against DHS to block the public charge rule, arguing that it would harm residents by increasing food insecurity and restricting access to housing and healthcare.

Many immigrants take advantage of government-assistance programs like food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid.

Confusion around the new policy has spurred many immigrants to drop benefits unnecessarily, even before the rule was set to take effect.

The ruling also stated the lawsuit was likely to succeed when held up against the Administrative Procedure Act and U.S. Constitution.

It also signifies a major legal triumph for a coalition of advocacy groups and Democratic-led states, counties and cities that challenged the rule through almost a dozen lawsuits in federal courts across the country.

A U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas ruled that Trump violated the law when he declared a national emergency in order to build a border wall separating the U.S. from Mexico.

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"The Rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification", he wrote in his ruling.

The policy is central to Trump's longtime goal to slash legal immigration and gear it more for people with employment skills instead of toward family members.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, expressed confidence that the administration would eventually prevail and framed the policy as a legal attempt to ensure that those who settled in the United States could support themselves financially and not be a drain on public benefits. Previously it applied to immigrants who would be primarily dependent on the government.

Just last week, Trump issued a presidential proclamation that says immigrants will be barred from the country unless they are covered by health insurance within 30 days of entering or have enough financial resources to pay for any medical costs. If someone uses two benefits, that is counted as two months. Other U.S. judges issued similar injunctions elsewhere on Friday, including the Eastern District of Washington and the Northern District of California. The test already included use of cash benefits, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Officials would deem an immigrant a "public charge" and deny the application if they determine he or she is more likely than not to use one of the considered benefits for 12 months or longer over the span of three years.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, ruled in favor of California, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

The administration had argued that US law has long discouraged admitting immigrants who were likely to end up draining resources by becoming a "public charge".