Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Public Charge Rule and Human Rights

The federal government has announced an expanded public charge rule for immigrants seeking a visa, green card, or other immigration status, potentially disqualifying those who have received a broad array of public benefits including food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance.  Considerable opposition was registered during the notice and comment period for this new rule -- so much so that the government acknowledged the many negative comments that it received, stating that  "[w]hile some commenters provided support for the rule, the vast majority of commenters opposed the rule."  Indeed, even the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, a government agency, opposed the proposal.  But to no avail.  The administration had its own agenda that would not be put off track by comments from the public, suggesting that the Notice and Comment period for this rule was a farce from the beginning.

Thirteen state attorneys general have already swung into action, calling the new rule "arbitrary and capricious," and filing a lawsuit against the federal move.   Santa Clara County, California and San Francisco have filed a separate suit seeking a preliminary injunction.

The human rights framework that weighs against this change has been spelled out by a number of organizations opposing the new criteria, including Human Rights Watch, the Columbia  Human Rights Institute and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Friends Service Committee.  

The revised rule is set to go into effect on October 15.

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