Federal Judge Voids Public Charge Rule

A federal judge in Illinois has ruled the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule was invalid because it violated the Administrative Procedure Act. As a result, the court vacated the rule and prevented DHS implementation nationwide.

While the court recognized that nationwide bans of the rule have been overturned in other cases, those cases were still at a preliminary stage of consideration by the courts. This ruling was a final decision on the merits of the case. “By the APA’s plain terms ... an agency rule found unlawful in whole is not ‘set aside’ just for certain plaintiffs or geographic areas; rather, the rule ‘shall’ be ‘set aside,’ period.”

The rule limits the ability of legal immigrants to adjust or extend their immigration status or gain full citizenship based on their receipt of public benefits, including Medicaid. In a friend-of-the court brief in support of California’s challenge to the rule, the American Hospital Association and five other national hospital groups said immigrants are less likely to enroll their children in public programs, even if their children are U.S. citizens, when they perceive it to place their immigration status at risk.