Many immigrants take advantage of government-assistance programs like food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid. The Trump administration's move would have expanded public charge grounds to include use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Section 8 rental housing assistance.
The rule would have placed a roadblock on the path to legal immigration for immigrants who are poor and would have had to choose between facing hardship or obtaining a green card or other legal documents to stay in the country.
Trump was elected with a clear mandate to curtail immigration, especially immigration disadvantageous to the US taxpayer.
The rule, which the administration announced this summer, is being challenged in several federal courts by immigrant rights groups and more than a dozen state attorneys general. "It is a rule that will punish individuals for their receipt of benefits provided by our government, and discourages them from lawfully receiving available assistance meant to aid them in becoming contributing members of our society".
In Washington, U.S. District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson issued a nationwide injunctionruling that DHS had "not cited any statute, legislative history, or other resource that supports the interpretation that Congress has delegated to DHS the authority to expand the definition of who is inadmissible as a public charge or to define what benefits undermine, rather than to promote, the stated goal of achieving self-sufficiency". He wrote that the government had failed to provide "any reasonable explanation" for why the definition of "public charge" needed to be changed.
The now-blocked rule would have meant immigrants applying for legal permanent residency, a step before applying for citizenship, would be judged based on additional types of assistance they have accepted from the federal government for at least 12 months in any 36-month period.
Factors like the immigrant's age, employment status and English-language ability would also be looked at to determine whether they could potentially become public burdens at any point in the future. "An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law".
The policy change immediately drew fire from anti-hunger advocates and immigrant advocates.
U.S. District Judge Rosanna Molouf Peterson in Spokane, Washington, issued a nationwide injunction Friday, around the same time that judges in NY and California announced similar decisions. The migrant would be left the immigrant in whatever status he or she had before.
The proclamation, published by the White House on October 4, requested that those seeking US immigrant visas be covered by "approved health insurance" within 30 days of entry into the country, or possess "the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs".