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ACBA
The state Bar of California
Asian American Bar Association
American Immigration Lawyers Association
ATLA
Expertise
Expertise 2021

“Public Charge” Change Blocked by Injunction

A Trump administration immigration policy change that troubled many people in California has been blocked by a federal judge. The national injunction stopped the administration’s attempts to redefine “public charge,” the term used to describe immigrants who may be denied permanent residence out of a belief that they might be dependent on government support. The changed rule was scheduled to go into effect in mid-October 2019, and experts say that around 500,000 documented immigrants legally present in the country could have been affected by the change. It would have affected people applying to become green card holders, legal permanent residents in the country.

While the administration said that the change was necessary due to rising costs associated with immigrants in poverty, many others criticized the proposal, saying that it blocked people doing their best to support their families and build a future in the United States. Furthermore, they argued that the rule change would put health and safety at risk as people would avoid applying for necessary supportive programs in order to avoid the penalties associated with a public charge designation. Sparked by these concerns, many lawsuits were filed by states and cities as well as immigration advocacy groups in an attempt to block the rule.

The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the injunction, which did not block a similar rule imposed on green card applicants seeking permanent residence from outside the country. It has had a serious impact on people trying to bring their family members to the country, including spouses and the parents of U.S. citizen children.

People who are navigating changes to U.S. immigration law may be concerned about the many proposals on the horizon. An immigration attorney may provide advice and guidance to help people protect their rights and stay in the country.

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