‘Arbitrary and capricious’ public charge rule is blocked nationwide, days short of its implementation

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — A federal judge’s Oct. 11 decision blocking implementation of a new “public charge” rule for immigrants confirmed arguments raised by CLINIC and other plaintiffs that the rule is “arbitrary and capricious” and should be blocked nationwide.

“We welcome this common-sense decision,” said Anna Gallagher, executive director of CLINIC. “We hope it will ease the worries of our immigrant brothers and sisters who are fearful of using services to which they and their families have a right.”

The new standards were to take effect Oct. 15. The injunction puts implementation on hold pending the outcome of lawsuits. The rule would have dramatically changed the standards by which immigrants would be judged for whether they might at some point rely on a range of public benefits.

In a 24-page decision, Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York wrote that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, that plaintiffs “will suffer irreparable harm if the rule becomes effective” and that the “balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction.”

“The public charge standard was never intended to exclude working class immigrants from developing countries,” said Charles Wheeler, CLINIC’s director of Training and Legal Support. “This ruling confirms that the American dream remains open to them.”

“The rule would have affected all low-income immigrants seeking to reunite with their family in the United States,” Wheeler added. “The court rightfully blocked this administration’s illegal efforts to limit lawful immigration from certain parts of the world.”

In a separate decision Oct. 11, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the Northern District of California also granted a preliminary injunction on the public charge rule. That injunction is applicable to the city or county of San Francisco, Santa Clara County, California, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Maine and Pennsylvania.