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Federal Judge Blocks “Public Charge” Rule

Paul, Weiss and co-counsel The Legal Aid Society and the Center for Constitutional Rights won a preliminary injunction, the first nationally, blocking the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule. In a ruling, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels barred the rule from taking effect on October 15. The rule, promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security, proposes a new, expansive definition of the term “public charge” in federal immigration law that would allow immigration officials to deny admission or lawful permanent residence to hundreds of thousands or millions of low- and middle-income immigrants deemed likely at any time in the future to receive certain public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid and certain rental assistance.

The rule “is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility,” Judge Daniels wrote, concluding that if the rule were not enjoined, it would “expose individuals to economic insecurity, health instability, denial of their path to citizenship, and potential deportation,” causing “personal and public disruption.”

Judge Daniels determined that the rule likely violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious. Echoing our arguments, Judge Daniels found that the rule’s proposed definition of “public charge”—which has appeared in federal immigration law since 1882—“is a drastic deviation from the unambiguous and well-established meaning of the term that has existed for over 130 years.” Judge Daniels also found that the rule is arbitrary and capricious because the defendants “do not articulate why they are changing the public charge definition, [or] why this new definition is needed now.”  

Judge Daniels simultaneously granted a similar nationwide injunction in a parallel case brought by the New York Attorney General. Following his decision, federal district courts in California, Washington, Illinois, and Maryland also granted preliminary injunctions in other cases challenging the rule.

Paul, Weiss and its co-counsel are representing Make the Road New York, African Services Committee, Asian American Federation, Catholic Charities Community Services (Archdiocese of New York), and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., as organizational plaintiffs in the case.

The Paul, Weiss team that prepared the preliminary injunction motion includes litigation partner Andrew Ehrlich, counsel Jonathan Hurwitz (who argued the motion, along with attorneys from our co-counsel and the New York Attorney General’s office), associates Ravi Sharma, Elana Beale, Robert O’Loughlin, Daniel Sinnreich, Amy Bowles, Patrick Kessock, Brittney Xu, Avery Burrell, Leah Park, Chloe Lewis, and William Taylor. Of Counsel Daniel Beller and several additional current and former Paul, Weiss associates also contributed to the development of the case.

October 11, 2019

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