In August, a federal appeals court in Maryland approved the federal governments’ rules making it harder for immigrants to seek permanent residency in this country if they relied on public assistance programs. This ruling allows the application of a public charge rule to immigration to this country.
Public charge rule
In 2019, the federal Department of Homeland Security issued a policy that classifies immigrants as public charges and disqualified from citizenship if they use any benefits or the government declares that they are likely to rely on those benefits in the
future. The rule applies to any immigrant who is in this country legally.
Regulations implementing this policy were to take effect in Oct. but were delayed by several lawsuits. The US Supreme Court allowed them to become effective in Jan. In April, that Court denied a request from four states to suspend this program because of the public health and economic concerns for immigrants from the coronavirus.
This case was filed by the CASA de Maryland immigrant rights organization and two immigrants who immigrated to this country as children. A federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking enactment of this policy for the entire country.
In a 2-to-1 decision, the Fourth Cir. Court of Appeals found that the rule was unquestionably legal and that the district court should have deferred to the executive branch when formulating immigration policy. It said that the government could avoid the depletion of public funds by enacting this policy. Invalidating this rule would make it harder to take away grants of permanent residence which were against the national interest according to the Congress and executive branch.
The dissent claimed that the federal government overstepped its authority and greatly redefined and limited protections in the immigration system. The public interest will be harmed if immigrants living in this country had to disenroll from benefits because of this rule.
New York appeal
Another federal appeals court, the Second Circuit in New York, ruled against the government on this policy one day later. Immigrant groups argued that the rule discourages immigrants from using Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance or other public benefits. This ruling applies to New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.
Immigration laws are changing, complicated and have serious consequences. Attorneys can help you protect your rights.