New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against proposed new rules expanding the kinds of public aid immigrants can potentially be denied a green card for receiving, arguing it “implements this Administration’s explicit animus against immigrants of color.”
James jointly filed the suit in Manhattan federal court with New York City’s law department and Connecticut and Vermont’s respective state attorneys general. Thirteen other states had already filed a suit against the proposed change last week.
The rule would add Medicaid and food stamps to the list of programs whose past recipients could be deemed a “public charge,” potentially jeopardizing their ability to become citizens.
In the lawsuit, James argues the rule, which advocates have argued will disproportionately affect immigrants from developing nations in Central America and Africa, is based on racial bias, specifically citing President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE’s "shithole countries" reference.
She further argues that it contravenes “a century’s worth of case law,” writing that, historically, immigrants who rely on noncash benefits cannot be considered public charges.
“Finally, the rule fundamentally misunderstands that these non-cash programs are designed to help immigrants who arrive in this country with limited means move out of poverty and achieve upward mobility,” James said in a statement.
Opponents of the rule have argued it would lead to lower quality of life for immigrants who forgo assistance they may need to survive for fear of running afoul of the policy.
“The Trump Administration’s thinly veiled efforts to only allow those who meet their narrow ethnic, racial and economic criteria to gain a path to citizenship is a clear violation of our laws and our values,” James said in a statement.
“Quite simply, under this rule, more children will go hungry, more families will go without medical care and more people will be living in the shadows and on the streets. We cannot and we will not let that happen,” she added.
James first announced her office’s intention to sue over the rule last week, amid widespread Democratic backlash to the proposed change.