San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Trump administration’s new rule discouraging immigrants from using welfare, saying it contradicts decades of past practice.
The California counties said their own social safety-net systems will be affected, which gives them standing to sue.
And they argued that though federal law has long envisioned new immigrants not becoming a public burden, President Trump’s new policy carrying out that law is the wrong way to go about it.
The counties asked a federal judge to step in and halt the policy,
“For over half a century, the nation has had an immigration system that prioritizes family unification. However, the Final Rule attempts to undercut this system by dramatically restricting the ability of noncitizens to reunite with their families by gaining admission or [legal permanent residency] status,” the counties said in their lawsuit.
The federal law says immigrants are not to become a “public charge.” The law doesn’t define what that means, but the Clinton administration issued guidance in 1999 saying it meant immigrants were discouraged from using a limited set of benefit programs.
The Trump administration moved to officially define “public charge” more expansively in its new rule, including a number of welfare programs.
Under the rule, immigrants who use those programs — or newcomers who are deemed likely to use them — can be penalized on their applications for legal status in the U.S.
Homeland Security had anticipated lawsuits when it finalized the policy on Monday.
The agency spent months rigorously processing some 266,000 comments submitted on the original proposal and did make adjustments in the final rule issued this week, which acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said is evidence they followed procedural laws.
He told The Washington Times he’s confident of prevailing.
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