Law & the Courts

New York Sues to Block Trump Administration’s Crackdown on Migrants Who Use Public Services

Migrants from Honduras walk along a road in Esquipulas, Guatemala January 16, 2019. (Jorge Cabrera/Reuters)

New York joined Vermont and Connecticut Tuesday in filing a lawsuit to block the Trump administration’s attempt to crack down on immigrants who rely on public services.

New York attorney general Leticia James announced Tuesday that she, along with the attorneys general of Vermont and Connecticut, has filed suit against the federal agencies responsible for expanding the public-charge rule to make it more difficult for immigrants who rely on public services to obtain a visa.

“Quite simply, under this rule, more children will go hungry, more families will go without medical care and more people will be living in the shadows and on the streets. We cannot and we will not let that happen,” James said.

Under the new rule, which will take effect October 15 barring intervention from the courts, immigrants’ reliance on food stamps and public health insurance will be counted against them when they apply for permanent residence or citizenship. Prior to the change, the public-charge rule applied only to cash-assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Security Income program.

The Trump administration, in defending their expansion of the public-charge rule, has argued that it will “protect American taxpayers.” But the plaintiffs in the suit filed Tuesday argue that it is yet another example of the administration’s efforts to “isolate and exclude Latino immigrants and other immigrants of color.” They list nine similar instances in the suit, including the “travel ban” on migrants from Muslim-majority countries and the attempted rescinding of DACA, which currently shields some 700,000 young illegal immigrants from deportation.

A number of other states, including New Mexico, Colorado, Rhode Island, Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts have also filed suit to block the expansion of the  public-charge rule, James said Tuesday.

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