CALIFORNIA/WASHINGTON, DC (PM) — San Francisco and Santa Clara County in California filed a suit Tuesday to prevent the Trump administration from accomplishing a new rule that would withhold permanent residency to legal immigrants if they are found likely to utilize government benefit programs.
President Trump issued the regulation, called the public charge rule, on Monday. Starting in October, the federal government intends to determine decisions about an immigrant’s permanent legal status on a wealth test: Impoverished immigrants would be denied if they are deemed likely to use programs like food stamps or subsidized housing, while more affluent immigrants designated as less prone to need public assistance would be approved.
In the suit, recorded in United States District Court in San Francisco, the counties state the regulation would have a “chilling effect.” It would drive many away from required federal health care programs that also safeguard communities against infection, like the Zika virus. Local governments would have to provide comparable services and pick up the costs, the lawsuit states.
The rule’s announcement Monday prompted a swift backlash, and Tuesday’s lawsuit was not unexpected. Several advocacy groups declared the policy severe and several promised to sue the federal government.
The Department of Justice refused to comment on the suit Tuesday night.
The brand-new rule is the Trump administration’s latest move to dramatically overhaul the immigration system.
Under the rule, impoverished immigrants would be rejected green cards if they are deemed likely to use government benefit programs like food stamps and subsidized housing. Officials would also examine an immigrant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, and education.
Officials would be granted extensive leeway to determine whether an immigrant is likely to use public benefits, to deny them a green card and to order them deported.
The rule would not apply to people who already hold green cards, to certain members of the military, to refugees and asylum-seekers, or to pregnant women and children.