As nearly 20 states move to block the Trump administration’s new “public charge” rule making it harder for legal immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship, advocacy groups warn the rule will have another consequence: a negative effect on the U.S. economy, with potentially billions in losses.
The rule, finalized on Aug. 14, makes it more likely that a legal immigrant who uses benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance for more than 12 months in any 36-month period will be identified as a “public charge,” jeopardizing their potential to get a green card and become a citizen.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday filed a preliminary injunction to pressure a judge to move forward with its lawsuit, requesting a hearing for Oct. 3. The lawsuit says the rule, scheduled to take effect on Oct. 15, penalizes immigrants who use public benefits.
“This punitive rule is a threat to the fabric of our communities and goes against our California values,” Becerra said in a press release. “We will not stand by as this Administration tries to weaponize the safety net programs that support working families across the nation.”
Liz Schott, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank based in Washington, noted that there are at least six lawsuits related to the public charge rule. “We can’t wait for the normal course of several years. We need to stop this now,” Schott said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the rule, which is a new version of one that has been on the books for decades, is designed to make sure immigrants who become citizens are self-sufficient.
“Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle in America. The virtues of perseverance, hard work, and self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States,” he said.
By Sunny Kim for CNBC
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