Federal judge tosses Trump rule curbing public assistance for immigrants

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The administration's policy, known as the "public charge" regulation, has undergone lengthy litigation since it was finalized last year.

A federal judge in Illinois on Monday struck down the Trump administration's sweeping crackdown on legal immigration through public assistance programs, a blunt check on President Donald Trump's agenda just one day before the election.

The administration's policy, known as the "public charge" regulation, has undergone lengthy litigation since it was finalized last year. Lower courts blocked its implementation until the Supreme Court in January stepped in and said immigration officials could start enforcing it while judges weighed its legality. So, despite other lower court attempts to pause or delay the policy, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it's mostly stayed in effect since February.

 

Why this ruling is different: U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said in his opinion that the Supreme Court's earlier judgment lifting all temporary freezes didn't apply here, as he flatly declared the rule to be illegal and told the administration it can no longer be enforced anywhere in the country.

Under the rule, legal immigrants who use government benefits like Medicaid or food stamps for more than 12 months within any three-year period will jeopardize their ability to get a green card. While the policy affects relatively few people, researchers have chronicled how it has scared immigrants away from applying for assistance or even enrolling their kids in public health coverage.

Other judges in multiple federal district and appellate courts have also ruled against the policy, at least in the states under their jurisdiction, but the Supreme Court's earlier lifting of any freezes overrode their decisions.

 

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