James Joins 19 Other AGs In Challenging ‘Public Charge’ Rule Change

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s proposed change to the “public charge” rule.  Eagle  photo by Rob Abruzzese.

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s proposed change to the “public charge” rule. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese.

By David Brand

New York Attorney General Letitia James joined 19 other state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs suing to stop the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule change. The change could prevent people deemed likely to use government assistance programs from entering the United States.

In January 2018, the State Department issued new guidance to consular officials via the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which now enables them to deny admission based on the likelihood that someone will receive public benefits or long-term care when they arrive in the U.S. Individuals who depend on government benefits are sometimes referred to as “public charges.”

The proposed rule change would define anyone who receives benefits — even if they are not dependent on them — as a “public charge.”

The mayor and city council of Baltimore sued the Trump Administration over the changes in November 2018, arguing that the FAM guidance discourages immigrant families from seeking benefits such as housing, healthcare and education because they are concerned that the benefits will inhibit their ability to obtain permanent residency or citizenship.

Baltimore filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

“This is yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to restrict legal immigration into our country,” James said. “These new rules are un-American and will stand in the way of families being reunited and long-term residents gaining citizenship. We will continue to fight for policies that provide a pathway to citizenship and opportunity, rather than those that unfairly deny them.”

In addition to James, the amicus brief includes attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, California and Washington D.C.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, certain categories of immigrants and families are not subject to the proposed change.

Refugees, asylees, applicants for U or T visas, Violence Against Women Act self-petitioners, Special Immigrant Juveniles are not subject to a "public charge" test.