Judge Blocks Trump Admin Rule That Makes It Easier To Deny Green Cards To Poor Immigrants

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A federal judge blocked a Trump administration rule just days before it was due to go into effect and make it harder for low-income migrants to obtain green cards, dealing a serious blow to the president’s immigration agenda.

New York federal Judge George Daniels on Friday issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, which takes into account a foreign national’s use of government benefits when they apply to live in the U.S. on a more permanent standing.

Daniels — who was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton — ruled that the White House likely overstepped its authority when it moved to expand the public charge guidelines.

“In short, defendants do not articulate why they are changing the public charge definition, why this new definition is needed now, or why the definition set forth in the rule — which has absolutely no support in the history of U.S. immigration law — is reasonable,” Daniels wrote in a 24-page order.

Citizenship And Immigration Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli Holds Press Briefing

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 12: Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli speaks about immigration policy at the White House during a briefing August 12, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Trump administration announced in August that it would roll out the new public charge rules. Under the guidelines of the plan, any individual immigrant who applies to live in the U.S. on a more permanent standing — which usually means applying fo a green card — the applicant’s history of public benefits uses would be taken into account. Usage of food stamps, Section 8 and other housing benefits, Medicaid, cash assistance and other programs would be taken into account when determine whether to grant an immigrant a green card.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers reviewing cases would look at an applicants’ use of public benefits over a 12-month period within any given 36-month period during their time in the country.

However, a cadre of Democratic-led states, advocacy groups, and other progressive organizations made numerous court challenges across the country against the rule. In fact, Daniels wasn’t the only judge on Friday to rule against the public charge rule. A federal judge in California also issued an injunction against it, albeit that decision was more limited than Daniel’s nationwide ruling.

The Trump administration blasted the decisions, casting them as partisan.

“An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law. Long-standing federal law requires aliens to rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, sponsors, and private organizations in their communities to succeed,” acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement on Friday. (RELATED: Trump’s Immigration Agenda Hit With String Of Losses By Obama Judges)

“The Public charge regulation defines this law to ensure those seeking to come or stay in the US can successfully support themselves financially and will not rely on public benefits as they seek opportunity here,” he continued.

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