Receiving benefits is no longer an obstacle to immigration and citizenship: court decision
On Monday, November 2, US District Judge Gary Feinerman in Chicago, Illinois, rejected a rule imposed by the Trump administration that would deny green cards to immigrants using food stamps and other public benefits. The solution applies across the country, not just in the state of Illinois, writes NPR.
The Illinois Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (ICIRR) and Cook County filed a lawsuit in September 2019 in hopes of blocking the rule, but it was put into effect in January this year by the US Supreme Court. However, Feinerman said the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which regulates the process federal agencies use to develop and issue regulations.
According to the rule, an immigrant should have been denied a green card if he received food stamps or other medical or housing benefits, as well as if there was a high probability that he would qualify for them in the future. Under the Trump administration's rule, these candidates would be considered a "public burden."
The ICIRR and Cook County argued that the term “social burden,” meaning a person deemed dependent on a country, is ambiguous and requires a “degree of dependence” in excess of temporary government assistance, court documents say.
The Trump administration has argued that the rule would filter out candidates unable to support themselves in the United States. Immigrant rights advocates believe this rule forces people to choose between their health and the ability to stay in the country. Cook County officials also argued that the rule led immigrants to rely on expensive emergency medical care instead of preventive care.
“As COVID-19 continues to impact all of us, it is vital that no one is afraid of access to health care,” Cook County Council President Tony Prekwinkla said in a statement. "The court's decision to block compliance with the social burden rule reopens the door for immigrants to access vital services such as health care."
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