Multiple States File Amicus Brief Challenging Public Charge Rule


A coalition of 19 Attorneys General filed a multistate amicus brief in support of the lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s new rule that would change how immigration officials decide who will likely become a “public charge.”

Earlier this year, the Trump administration implemented sudden changes to the longstanding Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which officials at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas use in deciding to allow or deny a person’s application to enter the United States.

Under the new FAM instructions, consular officials are now required to consider the totality of the circumstances of visa applicants when determining their inadmissibility to the United States. They must consider the applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, skills, and other factors.

On November 28, 2018, the City of Baltimore filed a lawsuit challenging the changes to the public charge guidance under FAM.

The Baltimore and its counsel Democracy Forward argued that the new guidance discourages immigrant families from accepting public benefits such as housing, healthcare, education, and other assistance programs. Immigrant families are now afraid that might jeopardize their future legal immigration status or the status of their family members if they receive public benefits.

Additionally, the City argued that it will be forced to spend resources to encourage immigrants to accept benefits. The FAM changes will impose costs on Baltimore’s programs and the city as a whole.

California Attorney General calls new public charge rule “dangerous”

In the amicus brief, the state Attorneys General argued that they have a strong interest to protect the health, wealth-being, and economic security of their residents. They stressed that the government provides public benefits to help families make ends meet and ensure strong and healthy families nationwide.

They noted that the term public charge has long been used to describe people who depend primarily on government-funded cash assistance or long-term care.

In a statement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “This guidance represents yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to sow fear and confusion in the immigrant community.”

“The Trump Administration continues to play politics at the expense of vulnerable families and their children. This dangerous policy would force parents to forgo basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare out of fear. We will not stand for this assault on families and communities across our nation,” he added.

On the other hand, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the new rule is “another attempt by the Trump administration to restrict immigration.” She called it “un-American.” It prevents family reunification and long-term resident from gaining citizenship.

Additionally, James vowed that they “continue to fight policies that provide a pathway to citizenship and opportunity, rather than those that unfairly deny them.”