Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Judge blocks Trump policy that makes green cards harder to get

Judge George Daniels' Friday ruling came just days before the so-called Enlarge Image President Donald Trump Getty Images
Anna Jefferson | 12 October, 2019, 03:53

A federal judge on Friday blocked a Trump administration rule that sought to strengthen the ability of federal officials to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to rely on government assistance - the latest defeat for the administration's aggressive immigration policy in the courts.

According to one study, talk of the rule, along with confusion over which benefits will be consider, has prompted some immigrant families - including USA citizens - to avoid or drop food, medical and housing government benefits out of fear that enrollment would jeopardize immigration petitions filed by family members.

But Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of NY blocked the rule nationwide, finding that the government failed to provide "any reasonable explanation" for why the definition of public charge needed to be changed.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels in NY said the policy redefined longstanding immigration laws with a new framework that had "no logic". It will now be on hold while legal challenges proceed.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the lawsuit, has said the rule specifically targets immigrants of color. Other U.S. judges issued similar injunctions elsewhere on Friday, including the Eastern District of Washington and the Northern District of California. The measure, which is scheduled to take effect November 3, could prohibit the entry of about 375,000 people a year, mainly family members who account for a majority of people getting green cards from overseas, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

In California, U.S. Judge Phyllis Hamilton found "the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits, for numerous reasons".

He went on to claim that the definition has "no support in the history of USA immigration law" and described the rule as "repugnant".

"It is repugnant to the American dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility", the judge added.

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The Trump administration, with Miller in a leading role, has enacted a series of measures attempting to curtail immigration, only to be blocked by court injunctions until the underlying lawsuits can be heard.

"The situation in the federal judiciary with respect to these nationwide injunctions, which have proliferated to an unprecedented degree, is intolerable".

United States immigration law has long required officials to exclude from permanent residency a person likely to become a "public charge".

Since a draft executive order leaked in 2017, the proposed changes to the nation's immigration system have elicited withering criticism from immigrant advocates across the country.

Daniels faulted the government for not adequately explaining why it was changing the definition of a "public charge" or why the change was needed. Noting that the government counted English proficiency in its calculation of the likelihood of becoming a public charge, Daniels wrote that "It is simply offensive to content that English proficiency is a valid predictor of self-sufficiency".

In January 2018, the State Department updated its foreign affairs manual, giving diplomats wider discretion in deciding visa denials on public-charge grounds.

But a slew of state and organizations sued, saying the definition of public charge discriminated against the poor and others.

On Thursday, the State Department revealed its own rule on ineligibility for visa applicants, to bring its standards in line with the DHS rule.

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