Aug. 27, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
Several community organizations filed a joint lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court in a bid to block the Trump administration’s “Public Charge” rule from taking effect on Oct. 15.
Make the Road New York, African Services Committee, Asian American Federation, Catholic Charities Community Services, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (“CLINIC”) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District arguing that the proposed rule was unconstitutional, racist and unfair to immigrants who need public assistance.
The lawsuit is one of many that’s been filed across the nation challenging President Trump’s public charge rule.
The rule would make it far easier for the administration to classify poor immigrants as a “public charge,” a classification that would likely lead to the denial of their application for a green card.
The rule would designate immigrants who are likely to receive public benefits –even temporarily– as a “public charge”. Immigrants who currently receive benefits such as housing assistance, food stamps and healthcare are likely to have their green card applications rejected.
The lawsuit argues that the rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act, along with the Equal Protection and Due Processes clauses of the Constitution. It says that the Public Charge rule deliberately targets immigrants of color and that it is intended to get rid of immigrants from countries with predominately non-white populations.
The complaint also alleges that the Trump administration’s new and expansive definition contradicts the statutory definition of a public charge as limited to an individual who is “primarily” dependent upon public support. The new rule would classify immigrants who use public assistance–no matter how small that benefit is–as a public charge.
Blanca Palomeque, member of Make the Road New York, labeled the rule as immoral and said that it would force green card applicants to decide between their personal welfare and remaining in the United States.
“This inhumane change punishes working class families like mine for feeding our children, accessing crucial healthcare services and keeping our families together—all because we’re not white and wealthy,” Palomeque said.
Make the Road New York’s co-executive Director Javier Valdes said that the public charge rule will cause immigrant families to renounce essential services and programs out of fear that their family will be ripped apart.
Janet Sobel, CEO of the Legal Aid Society, said that the U.S government had weaponized the safety net that is there for immigrant families who fall on hard times. The Legal Aid Society represent the plaintiffs, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
“We look forward to challenging the administration’s racist and xenophobic rule so that our low-income clients can continue to become permanent residents just like so many generations have been able to do in the past,” Sobel said.