A federal court in Manhattan on Friday blocked an effort by the Trump administration aimed at deterring millions of immigrants from accessing public benefits.
Connecticut, New York and Vermont went to court seeking an injunction of the Trump administration’s new “public charge” rule that was to take effect next week. Under the new rule, immigrants seeking entry into the United States or a green card would be scrutinized for their use of food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, housing assistance and the likelihood they might use such public benefits in the future.
Judge George Daniels of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York said the Trump administration may have exceeded its authority when it expanded the guidelines for determining who should be labeled a public charge.
“In short, defendants do not articulate why they are changing the public charge definition, why this new definition is needed now, or why the definition set forth in the rule — which has absolutely no support in the history of U.S. immigration law — is reasonable,” he wrote.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but is likely to appeal the ruling.
Gov. Ned Lamont had joined other Democratic governors in decrying the new rule.
“This new rule targets vulnerable immigrant families who are legally pursuing the American dream and forces them to forgo public services in order to stay on the path to citizenship,” Lamont said in a statement released Friday.
Lamont said the new rule would force many immigrants in Connecticut to go without food, adequate housing and medical care.
“When families lack housing and medical care, when children go to school hungry, when parents go to work sick, all of our Connecticut communities pay the price,” the governor said.
Attorney general William Tong, who with his colleagues in New York and Vermont is suing to eliminate the new rule, said “the court found that we have a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of our claims, and we intend to continue to prove that case to prevent this cruel and heartless proposal from ever becoming a reality,”
The Lamont administration estimates that if the new public charge rule takes effect, nearly 200,000 Connecticut residents could lose access to basic services including food stamps, Medicaid – or HUSKY as the program is known in the state — and Section 8 housing vouchers that help low-income people pay their rent.
Connecticut argued in its lawsuit that the cost of assisting these legal immigrants and their families with food and housing would fall back on the state, resulting in serious economic and public health costs.
Daniel’s ruling was the second setback Friday for Trump immigration policy.
A federal judge in Texas ruled the president’s proclamation of a national emergency to divert money to build a wall along the southwestern border was a violation of federal law and that Congress must appropriate funds specifically designated for the wall.