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Federal Courts, Trump, and the New Public Charge Rule

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Federal Courts, Trump, and the New Public Charge Rule

Analysis: Federal Courts Enjoin Trump Administration from Implementing New Public Charge Rule

You may have read in one of our recent blog posts about the Trump administration’s new rules regarding the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility. Under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, certain green card or immigrant visa applicants are barred from entering the United States or obtaining residency if they are deemed by an immigration officer to pose an economic liability on the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) both acknowledged that they would be moving forward with the new rules regarding the interpretation and application of the public charge grounds. These rules were scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019.

On October 11, 2019, judges in three separate cases before federal district courts located in California, New York, and Washington, enjoined DHS from applying the new public charge rule. Whether DHS will be allowed to implement the new rule is now the subject of federal court litigation. On Monday, October 14, 2019, the federal court for the Northern District of Illinois, located in Chicago, joined in blocking the Trump administration’s new rule.

It is worth noting that the Department of State announced, the same day of the California, New York, and Washington federal court injunctions, that it would plan on moving forward with its application of its new public charge rule, but not immediately. However, the State Department reportedly will not implement the rule until its new “Public Charge Questionnaire” has been published. The State Department advised visa applicants to not take any additional steps, despite the federal court injunctions, and to attend their visa interviews as scheduled.

So what does this mean then for green card and visa applicants? USCIS had announced its intentions to apply the new public charge rule, and with it, implement new versions of several common immigration forms. These forms included Forms I-485, I-129, I-539, I-864, I-864EZ, and the newly minted I-944, “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.” Form I-944 was scheduled to be implemented on October 15, 2019, and required green card applicants to disclose income, mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, education related loans, liens, and a credit report. Most important of all, the final rule had sought to bar applicants who would be “likely to be a public charge” based on a 20-factor analysis, including the use of public benefits, English language proficiency, credit score, and income. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York barred USCIS and DHS from "enforcing, applying, or treating as effective" DHS’s new rule. In addition, the New York court specifically enjoined DHS from requiring the new versions of these forms. This is an important development, since USCIS applicants, including some at our office, already began preparing their cases with the new versions of the forms.

Immigration advocates argue that the rule was unfair to low-income immigrants and those who are not proficient in English. The rule also raised concerns amongst immigration attorneys, since USCIS stated its intentions to require credit history checks in certain cases. The rule also asked whether applicants had health insurance as of the date of their green card application. President Trump stated that making sure immigrants are “financially self-sufficient” protects benefits for American citizens.

As of today, applicants should continue to use the old versions of the effected DHS forms. The public charge rule is suspended until further notice from the federal courts and DHS. Several other federal courts are hearing the issue as well. Keep up to date on all the changes and developments to the ongoing public charge rule state of affairs by follow this blog.

If you or a loved one has any concerns regarding how the rule may affect an immigration case, contact Ibrahim Law Office, an immigration law firm, today.

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