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Federal Judges Halt Enforcement of Public Charge Rule

In a victory for vulnerable immigrant populations, three federal judges across the country halted the enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) August public charge final rule.

Federal judges in Washington and New York issued nationwide preliminary injunctions, while a judge in California issued a more limited injunction applying only in the states that were parties to that lawsuit. America’s Essential Hospitals emphatically applauded the decision in a statement, noting that the rule threatens the health of millions of people and the stability of essential hospitals.

America’s Essential Hospitals and other national hospital associations filed an amicus brief in support of one of the lawsuits, led by the state of Washington and thirteen other states, arguing that the rule would harm the health and financial stability of immigrant families, raise hospital uncompensated care costs, and increase the number of uninsured.

Under immigration law, individuals who seek to enter or reside legally in the United States and apply for a green card (adjustment of status) must demonstrate they are not likely to become a public charge. In the rule in question, DHS added nonemergency Medicaid (with limited exemptions for children and pregnant women), nutritional benefits, and housing benefits to the types of support immigration officials consider when making public charge determinations. Under the rule, DHS will evaluate whether an applicant for a green card is likely to receive any of these benefits for more than 12 months in aggregate within any 36-month period.

The rule was set to take effect Oct. 15, but now will be on hold until the courts issue final decisions on the merits of the cases. In reaching their decisions to halt implementation of the rule, the judges agreed that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the public charge rule is unlawful.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Shahid Zaman is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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