California counties file first lawsuit over Trump 'public charge' rule

Two California counties on Tuesday filed the first lawsuit against the Trump administration's new "public charge" rule that allows the government to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on their use of public programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

Representatives for Santa Clara County and San Francisco filed the suit seeking a temporary injunction in the District Court for the Northern District of California.

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The counties allege the rule change hurts "critical public health and safety-net systems, is arbitrary and capricious, flouts federal law, and seeks to usurp Congress’ authority by administratively repealing its longstanding family-based immigration system."

The plaintiffs allege that the projected drop in noncitizens using public services as a result of the new rule will “increase risks to the public health.”

They also argued that the rule is unlawful because it conflicts with “the broader congressional framework of U.S. immigration law.”

San Francisco and Santa Clara County successfully sued the administration over a rule that would have taken federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.

The Trump administration released the final version of the "public charge" rule on Monday. It is set to go into effect Oct. 15. The two California counties are pushing for the implementation date to be postponed.

Under the new definition of "public charge," participation in federal programs like food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid will be a negative factor when determining if an immigrant can be granted a green card or visas.

Previously, only receipt of significant direct cash subsidies was considered a strike against an applicant.

Along with factors like age and health, the new definition will also consider family size and credit score when evaluating candidates for visas and green cards.

The change was initially previewed in September and received more than 200,000 public comments online, many of which were critical of the policy.

Tuesday's lawsuit is likely the first of several legal challenges to the rule.

The National Immigration Law Center said it will will sue the administration.

The group's executive director Marielena Hincapieé said in a statement that the rule "will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving health care and nutrition."

"The damage will be felt for decades to come," she added.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced Monday that she would sue over the rule, while California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraTrump administration ends five-year oil and gas drilling moratorium in California  Feds won't pursue charges against Sacramento officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark Overnight Energy: 17 states sue Trump over weakening of Endangered Species Act | Federal land agency chief releases 17-page recusal list | UN climate report warns of warming oceans, sea level rise MORE (D) vowed to fight the rule.

The Trump administration has defended the rule change as a way to promote “the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.”

Trump has pursued multiple avenues to reduce illegal and legal immigration during his presidency. The majority of those efforts have been met with legal challenges.

Updated at 3:29 p.m.