Federal Judges in New York and California Block Implementation of Controversial New Public Charge Rule

Federal Judges from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California have enjoined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its new public charge rule scheduled to become effective on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. The injunction issued by New York Federal Judge George Daniels blocks implementation of the public charge rule nationwide until pending litigation on the issue is resolved. The injunction issued by California Federal Judge Phyllis Hamilton is limited to California and the other states that had joined that lawsuit (Oregon, Maine, Pennsylvania, as well as the District of Columbia).

The Department of Homeland Security’s new public charge regulations sought to subject individuals who are applying for adjustment of status, and nonimmigrants applying for changes and extensions of status, to a much higher level of scrutiny regarding their personal financial circumstances. Multiple lawsuits had been filed across the U.S. challenging DHS’s authority to broaden the scope of the public charge analysis.

What happens now

As a result of these injunctions, the new public charge standards outlined in the regulation will not be implemented until further notice. DHS is likely to appeal the injunctions, so it is yet to be determined how long they will remain in effect. For the time being, though, DHS will not be able to request additional detailed financial information from adjustment of status applicants related to public charge issues, nor will DHS be able to subject nonimmgrants to additional questioning about their use of public benefits. It would also appear that new USCIS forms that included additional questions and document requests relating to the new public charge regulations cannot be required by USCIS to be used by applicants until the injunction is lifted.

These injunctions do not apply to similar public charge regulations issued recently by the Department of State, which aligned with the new DHS public charge regulations. Although those regulations could still be challenged, they are still scheduled to take effect on October 15 despite today’s injunctions issued by the New York and California District Courts.

The impact of these injunctions is expected to continue to evolve in the coming days and weeks, As new developments arise, Ellis Porter will keep you updated.