New Jersey AG Grewal, others challenge Trump’s 'Public Charge' rule

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and 12 other state Attorneys General filed a lawsuit last week challenging the federal government’s new “public charge” rule that will allow officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who use public assistance, including food stamps or housing vouchers.

The lawsuit co-led by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was filed August 14 in Richland, Washington in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

Besides New Jersey, the other states involved in the lawsuit are Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

In a separate action, New York, Connecticut and Vermont as well as the City of New York also filed a lawsuit August 20 in the Southern District of New York. Two California counties also had filed a similar lawsuit Aug. 13.

As part of President Trump’s so called merit-based immigration system, the administration released its final “public charge” rule August 12 that would restrict the legal immigration of low-income immigrants, green card seekers, and visa candidates. Under the rule, applicants, who use public aid such as SNAP food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance, can be categorized as a “public charge”

In a press statement, Grewal said, “The Administration’s efforts to make immigration available only to the well-off are as unlawful as they are inhumane,” adding that the American Dream has always been about opportunity for all, not just the wealthy, but now our federal government is trying to keep out immigrants seeking to build a new life here, as families have done since the founding of our nation.

“Not only is that bad for our immigrant neighbors, but it is bad for New Jersey, where immigrants are part of the fabric of our communities and our economy. I am proud to challenge this rule in court.”

The 169-page complaint challenging the new rule, which is expected to come into effect from October 15, explains that the rule will cause immigrants to dis-enroll from important benefits programs, harming immigrant families, imposing increased costs on states, and undercutting state policies and programs.

According to the Washington district court lawsuit, this reduction in enrollment in state and federal health benefits programs will inflict increased costs on states and worsen health outcomes on state populations.

Among other things, disenrollment from disability assistance programs will cause labor shortages of health care workers and increase the risk of injury for elderly and disabled residents who dis-enroll and disenrollment from job-training programs will make even more individuals dependent on public benefits while disenrollment from SNAP will mean more families go hungry.

The lawsuit signed by Grewal and others as plaintiffs against U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others, prays for declaring the rule unconstitutional as violative of the Equal Protection Clause and also to declare the rule contrary to the enacted legislation and Congressional intent and that it should be vacated for violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

"The ultimate city of immigrants will never stop fighting President Trump’s xenophobic policies," said Mayor de Blasio. "We are proud to join the Attorney General and let our immigrant brothers and sisters know New York stands united behind them. When you mess with our neighbors, you mess with all of us. To the President, we’ll see you in court.”

In a comment the Wal Street Journal said August 13 that, “President Trump in his better moments has said he wants, and the U.S. needs, more legal immigrants. But that’s hard to square with the way his Administration is now trying to curtail legal immigration under the pretext of preventing America from becoming a welfare magnet.”

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