Public Charge Litigation

Update: January 30, 2020

Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court issued a decision overturning the nationwide injunction against the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public charge rule, leaving only one statewide injunction in Illinois in effect. The rule will exclude immigrants with disabilities from this country and discourage those already in the US from using critical public benefits, including the Medicaid-funded home and community based services many disabled people rely on to fully participate in their communities.

That decision means that the rule can now be implemented while the Courts of Appeals review whether it is illegal and today it was announced that the Administration plans to do exactly that, implementing the rule on February 24, 2020. Allowing this rule to go into effect will serve to spread confusion and fear among immigrant communities and will allow illegal discrimination to go unchecked while litigation is ongoing. Read our full statement on the Supreme Court’s decision here.

For more on how DHS’ public charge rule will affect people with disabilities, check out our fact sheet and explainer.

Lawsuits Challenging the Final Public Charge Rule

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public charge rule, which was set to go into effect October 15, 2019, would be devastating for immigrants with disabilities, and means individuals could be denied admission or have their application for lawful permanent residency denied because they used (or even might use in the future) a wide range of government programs, including Medicaid, housing assistance, or food assistance.

Twenty-one states, led by CaliforniaWashington, and New York, filed cases against the Trump Administration to block the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule and were initially successful in delaying implementation of the rule. However, on January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court issued an order allowing the rule to go into effect, meaning it is currently in effect everywhere except for Illinois, where a statewide injunction against the rule still exists. The Center for Public Representation, American Civil Liberties Union, and sixteen other national disability advocacy groups represented by the global law firm Latham & Watkins filed amicus briefs in support of the litigation.  The advocacy groups – representing tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families across the country – claim that the new public charge rule will prevent people with disabilities from entering this country or becoming legal residents in violation of federal disability law. 

Below are litigation highlights and links to filings in all of the lawsuits against the rule. To learn more about the rule, visit our main public charge page here and for more on how DHS’ public charge rule will affect people with disabilities, check out our fact sheet and explainer.

Litigation Highlights

August 13, 2019: First lawsuit filed against the public charge rule in federal district court in the Northern District of California. Eight more lawsuits followed throughout August and September across the country.

September 9, 2019: The Center for Public Representation, American Civil Liberties Union, and sixteen other national disability advocacy groups represented by the global law firm Latham & Watkins filed an amicus brief in support of litigation in federal district court in Washington state to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its new public charge rule and later filed amicus briefs in support of litigation in federal district courts in New York (in two separate cases, here and here), California, and Illinois.

October 11, 2019: Federal courts in New York, Washington state, and California issued preliminary injunctions to stop the public charge rule. The injunctions issued in New York (which can be read here and here) and Washington state were nationwide injunctions. Those courts also found that the rule was likely to discriminate against people with disabilities. The preliminary injunction issued by a federal court in California prevented the rule from going into effect only in the plaintiff states.

October 14, 2019: Federal courts in Illinois and Maryland issued preliminary injunctions. The court in Maryland issued a nationwide injunction and the court in Illinois also issued a preliminary injunction, only applying in Illinois. Our full statement on all of the preliminary injunctions can be found here.

October 30, 2019: The Department of Justice filed notices of appeal in eight of the nine cases challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule (a decision in the Baltimore case has been deferred in light of the injunctions issued in other cases).

November 25, 2019: CPR, the ACLU, and 17 other disability advocacy organizations represented by Latham & Watkins filed an amicus brief opposing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) motion to stay the preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court in New York in October.

December 5, 2019: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of the nationwide injunction issued by a federal district court in Washington state.

December 9, 2019: The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of the nationwide injunction issued by a federal district court in Maryland in October.

January 8, 2020: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied a stay of the nationwide injunction of the public charge rule issued by a federal court in New York in October, meaning that despite the stays granted in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits in December, the nationwide injunction against the rule remains intact.

January 13, 2020: DHS appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to grant the stay of the injunction that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied.

January 23, 2020: CPR, the ACLU, and 17 other disability advocacy organizations represented by Latham & Watkins filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opposing DHS’ appeal seeking to overturn the preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court in California in October, applying to plaintiff states. The coalition filed later filed amicus briefs in the Seventh, Ninth, and Second Circuit Court of Appeals opposing DHS’ efforts to overturn preliminary injunctions issued by federal district courts in Illinois, Washington, and New York respectively, the latter two of which were nationwide injunctions.

January 27, 2020: The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision overturning the one remaining nationwide preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court in New York in October, meaning the rule is now allowed to go into effect while litigation is ongoing everywhere except for Illinois, where a statewide injunction remains in effect.

Filings by Case

NY, VT, CT v. U.S. Dep’t Homeland Sec.

U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D.N.Y.

  • Complaint (8/20/19) [includes disability claims]
  • Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction (9/9/19)
  • Amicus brief filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (9/11/19)
  • Decision granting nationwide preliminary injunction and finding potential disability discrimination (10/10/19) 
  • Order denying defendants’ request for a stay of injunction pending appeal (12/2/19)
  • Defendants’ motion to dismiss (2/14/20)
  • Letter seeking consolidation of New York cases (2/18/20)

2nd Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • Amicus brief opposing DHS’ motion to stay preliminary injunction filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (11/25/19)
  • DHS opening brief (12/13/19)
  • Denied a stay of a nationwide injunction of the public charge rule (1/8/20)
  • Appellee’s brief (1/24/20)
  • Amicus brief opposing DHS’ appeal of district court’s preliminary injunction filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (1/31/20)

U.S. Supreme Court

  • DHS submitted an application to appeal the denial of a stay (1/13/20)
  • Order granting stay of nationwide preliminary injunction (1/27/20)

Make the Road New York, together with African Services Committee, Asian American Federation, Catholic Charities Community Services, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec.

U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D.N.Y.

2nd Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • DHS opening brief (12/13/19)
  • Denied a stay of a nationwide injunction of the public charge rule (1/8/20)

U.S. Supreme Court

  • DHS submitted an application to appeal the denial for a stay (1/13/20)
  • Order granting stay of nationwide preliminary injunction (1/27/20)

Washington state, together with VA, CO, DE, IL, MD, MA, MI, MN, NV, NJ, NM, RI, & HI v. U.S. Dep’t Homeland Sec.

U.S. Dist. Ct. E.D. Wash.

  • Complaint (8/14/19) [refers to disability claims]
  • Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction (9/6/19)
  • Amicus brief filed by CPR, ACLU, & other disability organizations (9/9/19)
  • Decision granting plaintiff’s motion for nationwide preliminary injunction and finding likely disability discrimination (10/11/19)
  • Order denying defendants’ motion for stay of injunction pending appeal (12/3/19)

9th Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • Order granting the motion for a stay of preliminary injunction pending appeal. (12/5/19)
  • DHS opening brief (12/6/19)
  • Plaintiffs’ answering brief (1/17/20) 
  • Amicus brief opposing DHS’ appeal of district court’s preliminary injunction filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (1/24/20)
  • Denial of rehearing en banc on stay of injunction (2/18/20)

CA, ME, OR, PA, & DC v. U.S. Dep’t Homeland Sec.

U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D. Cal.

  • Complaint (8/16/19) [includes disability claims]
  • Amicus brief filed by CPR, ACLU, & other disability organizations (9/11/19)
  • Decision granting a preliminary injunction in plaintiff states but finding no specific disability discrimination (10/11/19)

9th Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • DHS opening brief (12/4/19)
  • Order granting a stay of injunction pending appeal (12/5/19)
  • Amicus brief opposing DHS’ appeal of district court’s preliminary injunction filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (1/23/20)
  • Denial of rehearing en banc on stay of injunction (2/18/20)

S.F. County & Santa Clara County v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs.

U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D. Cal.

9th Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • DHS opening brief (12/4/19)
  • Order granting the motion for a stay of preliminary injunction (12/5/19)
  • Denial of rehearing en banc on stay of injunction (2/18/20)

La Clinica De La Raza, together with California Primary Care Association, Maternal and Child Health Access, Farmworker Justice, Council on American Islamic Relations-California, African Communities Together, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, Central American Resource Center and Korean Resource Center v. Trump

U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D. Cal.

Cook County, IL & Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec.

U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D. Ill.

  • Complaint (9/23/19)
  • Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction (9/25/19)
  • Amicus brief filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (10/2/19)
  • Decision granting a preliminary injunction in Illinois and not directly addressing the disability discrimination claims (10/14/19)
  • Notice of denial of a stay of injunction pending appeal (11/14/19)

7th Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • DHS opening brief (12/10/19) 
  • Order denying a stay of injunction pending appeal (12/23/19)
  • Plaintiff’s answering brief (1/17/20)
  • Amicus brief opposing DHS’ appeal of district court’s preliminary injunction filed by CPR, ACLU and other disability organizations (1/24/20)
  • Order denying DHS’ renewed motion for a stay of injunction pending appeal (2/10/20)

CASA de Maryland & individual plaintiffs v. Trump

U.S. Dist. Ct. Md.

4th Cir. U.S. Ct. App.

  • Order granting a stay of injunction pending appeal (12/9/19)

Cities of Baltimore & Gaithersburg, MD, together with State Senator Jeff Waldstreicher, Friends of Immigrants, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and Tzedek DC v. U.S. Dep’t Homeland Sec.

U.S. Dist. Ct. Md.

  • Complaint (9/27/19)
  • A ruling in this case has been deferred due to the injunctions issued in other public charge cases.

Public Charge Litigation Tracker

For more resources and information, please visit the Protecting Immigrant Families website.

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