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Law & the Courts

Appeals Court Refuses to Lift Injunction Freezing Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Rule for New Immigrants

(Photo: Yongnian Gui/Dreamstime)

A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to lift an injunction blocking the Trump administration’s implementation of a new public charge rule for legal immigrants.

“Public charge” refers to immigrants who use government assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid. The Trump administration has attempted to restrict the number of legal immigrants who would require such assistance, by applying the public charge designation to any immigrant who requires government assistance for more than 12 months within a three-year period. However, the policy was blocked nationwide by federal court injunctions in Maryland and New York.

Three judges for the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled to retain the nationwide injunction against the administration’s public charge rule. The judges are all Democratic appointees of former presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama.

The court also ruled that the White House, which is appealing a lower court injunction against the public charge rule, must submit legal documents for the appeal by February 14, while oral arguments will be heard soon after the submission.

Officials for the White House and Justice Department did not immediately comment. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has led opposition to the administration’s public charge policy, also did not immediately comment.

In December, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed two preliminary injunctions against the administration’s policy, but did not have the authority to overturn the nationwide hold on the policy. Judge Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, attached an addendum to the court’s decision in which he criticized Congress for failing to draft appropriate immigration legislation, thus transferring much of the fight over immigration policy to the courts.

“We have seen case after case come through our courts, serious and earnest efforts, even as they are controversial, to address the nation’s immigration challenges. Yet we have seen little engagement and no actual legislation from Congress,” Bybee wrote. “It matters not to me as a judge whether Congress embraces or disapproves of the administration’s actions, but it is time for a feckless Congress to come to the table and grapple with these issues.”

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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