Judge blocks Trump policy that makes green cards harder to get

Judge blocks Trump policy that makes green cards harder to get

A NY federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from implementing a rule next week that would have targeted lower-income immigrants as part of an effort to curb legal immigration.

Judge George Daniels of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan issued apreliminary nationwide injunction prohibiting the administration from enforcing the so-called "public charge" rule just days before it was slated to take effect on Tuesday.

Federal law already requires immigrants seeking to become permanent USA residents to prove they will not be a burden on the country - a "public charge", in legal terms -but the new rules detail a broader range of programs that could disqualify applicants. It also signifies a major legal triumph for a coalition of advocacy groups and Democratic-led states, counties and cities that challenged the rule through almost a dozen lawsuits in federal courts across the country. Among the factors the officials would use is whether the applicant is already using public benefits like food stamps, housing subsidies and cash assistance.

"This rule would have had devastating impacts on New Yorkers and our nation, and today's decision is a critical step in our efforts to uphold the rule of law", New York Attorney General James said on Twitter, after the judge's decision.

Most visa holders and unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for public benefits, but immigrant advocates, medical professionals and state officials have argued the rule could deter them from seeking benefits even for children who are US citizens, even though benefits for family members are not considered under the rule.

The policy is central to Trump's longtime goal to slash legal immigration and gear it more for people with employment skills instead of toward family members. They note that the public charge policy has been in place for over a century, but the new requirements would favor wealthier immigrants. Hundreds of thousands more could have been affected if they avoided public benefits because they feared it would disqualify them from obtaining legal status, according to immigration advocates.

For example, if an individual earns less than 125 percent of the poverty level, that would be held against them. And the definition has been broadened to include Medicaid, housing assistance and food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. If they can't speak English or have large debts, that would also count against them.

The Trump administration argues that the rule is only clarifying existing law, saying it believes immigrants who want to stay in the USA should be able to support themselves and not rely on government aid.

Cuccinelli, who is named in the lawsuit, said the inscription should read instead: "Give me your exhausted and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge".

"The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification", the judge wrote.

But Judge Daniels' ruling said that the government had failed to provide a reasonable explanation for changing the definition of public charge.

According to one study, talk of the rule, along with confusion over which benefits will be consider, has prompted some immigrant families - including USA citizens - to avoid or drop food, medical and housing government benefits out of fear that enrollment would jeopardize immigration petitions filed by family members.

"The principle driving it is an old American value, and that's self-sufficiency", USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli told Fox News in an interview in August.

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