Update: June 10, 2020
Today the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision affirming the preliminary injunction issued by the Northern District of Illinois. The 7th Circuit found the new public charge rule violates federal law, including by discriminating against people with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Citing the amicus brief filed by CPR and other disability advocates, the court said “the Rule disproportionately burdens disabled people and in many instances makes it all but inevitable that a person’s disability will be the but-for cause of her being deemed likely to become a public charge.” Unfortunately, because the Supreme Court in February issued a stay of the preliminary injunction — meaning that it said the government could implement the rule during the litigation — today’s decision will not have an immediate impact until the Supreme Court reviews the decision on the merits.
Update: March 16, 2020
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that in response to the coronavirus pandemic (also known as COVID-19), 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).” This means that immigrants can receive treatment without an impact on their immigration status.
Please continue to visit this page for the latest updates on the public charge rule, and you can find more information on the related litigation on our litigation page. For more on the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on people with disabilities, visit our webpage here.
Overview of the Public Charge Rule
On August 12, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it had finalized the “public charge” rule. The final public charge rule, like the proposed rule, will be devastating to — and explicitly discriminates against — people with disabilities and their families who are seeking to enter the U.S. or applying for a green card. CPR issued this statement condemning the new public charge rule.
The public charge rule is unfair and harmful to people with disabilities and their families who are seeking to enter the U.S. or applying for a green card. The rule expressly discriminates against people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. This rule also means that an individual 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. Because Medicaid provides critical services that help people with disabilities live in the community and that are not generally available through private insurance, this rule will especially harm people with disabilities and their families. It not only could prevent them from entering the US or becoming permanent residents, but will discourage eligible families from using critical public services for fear of harming their immigration status.
The rule was scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019, but twenty one states, led by California, Washington, 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.
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. Read our full press release here and learn more about the lawsuits here.
A fact sheet reviewing the basics of the rule and its impact on people with disabilities is available here. A more in-depth explanation of the rule and the lawsuits challenging it can be found here. Learn more about the final rule at the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition website, and keep checking back here for updates.