Public Charge Rule Blocked

Health Disparities, Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice

In two landmark decisions issued on October 11, 2019, federal courts in Washington and New York have blocked the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attempt to impose a wealth requirement on immigration. The so-called “public charge” rule will not go into effect on October 15 thus leaving the status quo in place. This means there will be no adverse immigration consequences for using life-saving public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing. This safety net is critically important to support hardworking families and to lift countless children out of poverty.

The decision from the Eastern District of Washington extensively cites and relies on the amicus brief filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights in pro bono partnership with Morgan Lewis. The brief was filed on behalf of health care providers from across the country arguing that the public charge rule failed to consider the impact on doctor-patient relationships and the work of health care providers to address the social determinants of health.

The ruling specifically acknowledges our brief: “amici health care providers highlight the well-established state interest in protecting doctor-patient consultations from state intrusion so that patients and doctors may work together to determine the best course of medical care. By entwining medical decision-making with immigration considerations, the health care providers maintain that the public charge rule will constrain clinicians ability to recommend public benefit programs as well as their access to reliable forthright disclosures from their patients.”  Preliminary Injunction Decision pages 15-16.

The brief, attached below, was filed on behalf of:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital Chelsea Healthcare Center
  • International Community Health Services
  • Community Health Network of Washington
  • Housing Works
  • Latino Commission on AIDS
  • Bienestar Human Services
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis
  • Mazzoni Center
  • Massachusetts Public Health Association

Lawyers for Civil Rights is proud to represent these courageous organizations, and to bring the voices of directly affected people into the courtroom. We applaud these court decisions which highlight the incomplete and chaotic process by which the federal rule was written, and underscore the rule’s divergence from long-standing federal immigration policy.

Our courts are a bulwark against the federal government’s attacks against immigrant families.

Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we continue to fight.

Public Charge PI