Public Charge Litigation

Update: November 3, 2020

Yesterday, a federal district court judge in Illinois issued a decision vacating the Department of Homeland Security’s discriminatory public charge rule nationwide. Unfortunately, today the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of that decision, meaning the rule is allowed to remain in effect while litigation works its way through the courts.

Additional background information on the rule, resources, and media can be found here and the latest on the litigation efforts can be found below.

Lawsuits Challenging the Final Public Charge Rule

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public charge rule, which will go into effect on February 24, 2020, will 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.

The rule was scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019, but twenty one states, led by CaliforniaWashington, and New York, filed cases against the Trump Administration to block the new rule and were initially successful in delaying implementation of the rule. However, the Supreme Court, in a pair of 5-4 decisions (which you can read here and here), decided to allow the rule to go into effect while the lawsuits make their way through the courts, and the Administration then announced the rule would go into effect on February 24, 2020. For more on the rule’s implementation, you can read our alert here. In April, the Court decided not to modify or lift its stay in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but did state that lower courts could consider the issue.

On March 16, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that in response to the coronavirus pandemic it “will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19” in making public charge determinations, “even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule (e.g. federally funded Medicaid).” However, on July 29, 2020, a federal district court in New York found that announcement was insufficient to ensure the rule would not cause harm during the pandemic and issued a temporary injunction against the rule, preventing it from being implemented, applied, or enforced nationwide while the national public health emergency declared by the Trump Administration is ongoing.

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 US Supreme Court issued a decision staying the one remaining nationwide preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court in New York in October. That decision meant that the rule was allowed to go into effect nationwide while litigation is ongoing, except in Illinois, where a statewide injunction remained in effect.

February 21, 2020: The US Supreme Court issued a stay of the remaining statewide injunction in Illinois as well, meaning the rule will now be allowed to go into effect in every state, across the country. The Administration had announced in January that the rule would be implemented on February 24, 2020.

April 24, 2020: The US Supreme Court decided not to modify or lift its stay in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but did state that lower courts could consider the issue.

June 10, 2020:  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the preliminary injunction issued by the Northern District of Illinois finding the public charge rule in inconsistent with law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (citing the amicus brief filed by CPR and other advocates). 

July 29, 2020: The US District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a temporary injunction against the rule, preventing it from being implemented, applied, or enforced nationwide while the national public health emergency declared by the Trump Administration is ongoing.  

August 3, 2020: The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order on the motion to dismiss the case led by the State of California, granting it in part, denying it in part, and deferring ruling in part. The court granted the motion to dismiss with regards to the Section 504 claim.

August 4, 2020: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the original preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October but modified it to only apply to the plaintiff states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. This decision does not modify the COVID-19-related nationwide temporary injunction issued by the Southern District of New York on July 29.

November 2, 2020:  The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a decision vacating the public charge rule nationwide, effective immediately.  This means that the new public charge rule is no longer 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)
  • Opposition to motion to dismiss (2/28/20)
  • Decision granting a temporary nationwide injunction for the duration of the national public health emergency (7/29/20)

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)
  • Order modifying original preliminary injunction from nationwide to plaintiff states (8/4/20)

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)
  • Motion to temporarily lift or modify the stay in light of the COVID-19 pandemic (4/13/20)
  • Response in opposition to motion to temporarily lift or modify the stay (4/20/20)
  • Denial of motion to temporarily lift or modify the stay (4/24/20)

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)
  • Order modifying original preliminary injunction from nationwide to plaintiff states (8/4/20)

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)
  • Order granting in part, denying in part, and deferring ruling in part on the motion to dismiss, dismissing 504 claim (8/3/20)

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)
  • Opposition to motion to dismiss (2/19/20)
  • Decision vacating the public charge rule nationwide (11/2/20)

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)
  • Decision affirming the preliminary injunction issued by the Northern District of Illinois (6/10/20)  

U.S. Supreme Court

  • Order granting stay of statewide preliminary injunction (2/21/20)
  • Denial of motion to temporarily lift or modify the stay in light of the COVID-19 pandemic (4/24/20)

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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