Court upholds 'public charge' ruling keeping Trump administration from denying legal status to immigrants

The term "public charge" is given to people who require assistance.

August 5, 2020, 4:38 PM

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling that prevents the Trump administration from denying status to immigrants deemed a "public charge" because they receive various types of government assistance.

The ruling, from a three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, has no immediate impact other than to limit the scope of the injunction to Connecticut, New York and Vermont.

The Department of Homeland Security introduced a new public charge rule last year that expanded the number of government benefits that would disqualify a green card applicant. Several courts have heard legal challenges to the public charge rule. In one case that reached the Supreme Court, a 5-4 ruling by the court’s conservative majority in January allowed the rule to go into effect nationwide.

PHOTO: The Supreme Court, July 8, 2020, in Washington.
The Supreme Court, July 8, 2020, in Washington.
Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE

Immigration advocacy groups argued the new rule would discourage immigrants from seeking medical treatment, which is particularly worrisome during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Javier H. Valdés, of Make the Road New York, said in a statement the public charge rule has "caused immense harm to our communities — harm that intensified, as our country is in the midst of a health crisis."

In promoting the new rule, Ken Cuccinelli, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, rewrote the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

"Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,’" Cuccinelli told NPR’s "Morning Edition."

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