AG Ferguson: New administration set to reverse course on rule targeting legal immigrants

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

SPOKANE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered the following statement on the Biden Administration’s request to dismiss the federal government’s appeal of Washington’s injunction of the Trump Administration’s ‘public charge’ rule:

“My office led a coalition of 14 states challenging the Trump Administration’s ‘public charge’ rule targeting immigrant families. 
We won an injunction to stop the rule from going into effect while we fought it in court. 
Today, the Biden Administration withdrew its appeals, blocking this unlawful, un-American policy while the Biden Administration finishes its policy review. 
This is a victory for children of lawfully present immigrants, who were in danger of going hungry or losing their homes as a result of the Trump Administration’s heartless action.”

In August 2018, Ferguson co-led a 14-state coalition in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s revisions to the public charge rule.

Under the changes, if an immigrant who is legally in the country used benefits to which he or she was entitled ― such as food assistance to feed their U.S. citizen children or housing assistance ― even for a short time, the federal government could have revoked their legal status, or even deported them.

Even if an individual does not use these benefits, the Trump Administration rule expanded the government’s ability to deny a visa or permanent residency to any immigrant it predicts will use a broad range of short-term benefits at any point in the future, without clear standards for making that determination.

Federal law allows many lawful immigrants to apply for public benefits if they have been in the country for at least five years. The Trump rule created a “bait-and-switch” ― if immigrants used the public assistance to which they were legally entitled, they would jeopardize their chances of later renewing their visa or becoming permanent residents.

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