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Bring Us Your ... Welfare-Dependent?


IRLI defends administration’s return to traditional public charge rule

WASHINGTON – Today the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Trump administration in a lawsuit over its newly-issued rule directing officials not to grant lawful permanent resident status to foreign nationals who receive public assistance or are likely to do so. The State of New York and other plaintiffs brought the suit in Manhattan federal district court, seeking a preliminary injunction against the rule’s operation.

By statute, prospective immigrants likely to become public charges are to be denied lawful permanent resident status. The new rule implementing this statute supersedes earlier guidance dating from 1999 that substantially watered down traditional public charge criteria, even exempting non-cash benefits, such as food stamps, from being considered “public assistance” at all. Plaintiffs attempt to make this Clinton-era departure the new standard, claiming that the Trump administration was arbitrary and capricious when it included non-cash assistance in the public charge calculus. But, as IRLI shows in its brief, from earliest times the United States has excluded immigrants likely to become public charges, and, up until 1999, non-cash benefits were treated as public assistance by officials implementing the public charge exclusion.

“From colonial times onwards, America has insisted that settlers and immigrants be self-sufficient, not taxpayer-dependent,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “This rule has served our nation well, but in recent decades it hasn’t been enforced, to the point where immigrant households are now more dependent on public assistance than native households. We applaud the administration for returning us to a time-tested policy that requires hardy self-reliance in our immigrants, and puts the interests of the American people first.”

The case is State of New York v. Department of Homeland Security, No. 1:19-cv-7777 (S.D.N.Y.).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org


IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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