White House rips judge's ruling blocking 'public charge' rule

The White House on Friday night blasted a federal judge's ruling temporarily blocking the Trump administration's "public charge" rule that would link immigrants' legal status in the country to their use of public benefits.

"It is extremely disappointing that yet another judicial ruling has blocked—on a nationwide basis—this Administration’s efforts to restore integrity to the immigration system, consistent with the plain meaning and clear intent of the law," White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamOn The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday Trump, White House rip Democrats over impeachment articles Pelosi announces support for new Trump NAFTA deal MORE said in a statement.

The White House argued that the judicial pushback prevents "our Nation’s immigration officers from ensuring that immigrants seeking entry to the United States will be self-sufficient and instead allow non-citizens to continue taking advantage of our generous but limited public resources reserved for vulnerable Americans."

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The White House called the ruling "the latest inexplicable example of the Administration being ordered to comply with the flawed or lawless guidance of a previous administration instead of the actual laws passed by Congress."

U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels in the Southern District of New York had issued a temporary nationwide injunction stopping the Trump administration from enforcing the new requirements that were set to take effect Oct. 15.

Daniels, a Clinton appointee, said in a 24-page ruling that the Trump administration likely exceeded its authority and failed to explain "why they are changing the public charge definition, why this new definition is needed now, or why the definition set forth in the rule — which has absolutely no support in the history of U.S. immigration law — is reasonable."

“The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification," he wrote.

Under the Trump administration rule, immigrants who receive a public benefit such as Medicaid, food stamps or public housing voucher for more than 12 months in a three-year period would be considered a "public charge" and more likely to denied green cards.

The Trump administration had released the final version of the rule in August, with officials portraying it as a way to promote independence and sufficiency among immigrants, while critics warned it may discourage some migrants from seeking necessary assistance. 

Daniels said in his ruling Friday that the federal government did not provide "any reasonable explanation" for changing the definition of a public charge. 

Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli maintained in a statement Friday that the rule merely enforces long-standing immigration law, something echoed by the White House on Friday night.

"The public charge ground of inadmissibility has been a part of United States immigration law for more than 100 years, and is explicitly authorized by Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Congress has also made clear that aliens should 'not depend on public resources to meet their needs,'" the White House said.

The judge's ruling came four days before the rule was set to go into effect.