Press Release

AALDEF, Advancing Justice | AAJC, and NWLC file amicus briefs opposing DHS public charge rule

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Sixty Immigrant and Civil Rights Groups Join Amicus Brief

Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Advancing Justice | AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC), and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), along with pro bono counsel Crowell Moring, filed amicus briefs in public charge cases, La Clínica de la Raza v. Trump (Northern District of California), State of California v. Department of Homeland Security (Northern District of California), State of New York v. Department of Homeland Security (Southern District of New York), and Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli (Southern District of New York). The cases and briefs oppose the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) sweeping changes to a rule that will have significant negative impact on Asian American immigrants and women.

The amicus briefs address the fact that this public charge rule is based on racial hatred and targeting of specific segments of the population — specifically immigrants, women, and children from communities of color. It is a rule essentially designed to allow only the wealthy and/or white immigrants into this country. The original public charge test has its roots in xenophobia and racial bias, as it was enacted in the same era as the discriminatory and racially motivated Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which sought to keep Asian immigrants from coming to the U.S.

The rule disproportionately blocks immigrants of color from obtaining permanent resident (“green card”) status and inhibits immigrant workers and foreign students from extending or changing their visa status. The new rule dramatically expands the public charge test and will exclude anyone who may use, at any time in the future, a public benefit such as non-emergency Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), and subsidized housing. The rule also penalizes senior and low-income immigrants by imposing an unprecedented test that will consider factors such as age, English language proficiency, and access to private health insurance in assessing who may be “likely” to use public benefits.

Since the rule change was proposed, more than 13% of immigrant adults are reported to have dropped their use of public benefits out of fear of risking their future green card status. The official changes to the public charge rule will take effect on October 15, 2019, unless they can be stopped by the justice system.

Annie J. Wang, Director of Immigrant Justice Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:
“We believe that a country as rich in resources as the United States is stronger when we support and strengthen immigrant communities. The DHS’s public charge rule is yet another example of the Trump administration’s wide-ranging effort to fundamentally change our immigration system motivated by racist and white nationalist sentiment. As stated in the briefs, we have already seen the chilling effect of this policy change, which has led many AAPI families and other immigrant communities of color to avoid or disenroll from essential services for which they qualify.”

John C. Yang, president and executive director, Advancing Justice | AAJC:
“This is a dramatic expansion of a rule that traces its origins to another moment where the U.S. government discriminated against and restricted immigrants from coming into America. Rather than promoting immigration policies that permit discrimination on the basis of race or national origin, we should be focused on prioritizing accessible pathways to U.S. citizenship and supporting policies that keep our families together and help them to thrive.”

Sunu P. Chandy, Legal Director, National Women’s Law Center: “The National Women’s Law Center co-leads this brief to highlight both the blatant racism against immigrants of color that underlies this Administration’s dramatic changes to immigration policy – and the reality that those who bear the brunt of these harms are often immigrant women. This includes women who are elderly, disabled, pregnant, survivors of intimate partner violence, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals. In these fights, we must name that women and others who face sex discrimination, in addition to racial and national origin-based discrimination, are often left unable to meet their families’ basic needs.”

You can download copies of the amicus briefs here:
La Clínica de la Raza v. Trump
State of California v. Department of Homeland Security
State of New York v. Department of Homeland Security
Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli

For more information, contact:
Annie J. Wang
212.966.5932, ext. 213

Michelle Boykins
202-296-2300, ext. 0144

LySaundra Campbell