Advocates sue to block Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ rules against Caribbean immigrants

Trump administration sued over immigration rule change that would affect Caribbean nationals.

Immigrant rights advocates in New York have filed the first United States federal lawsuit seeking to jointly block three interrelated “Public Charge” rules declared by the Trump administration against Caribbean and other immigrants.

The advocates said these rules seek, “independently and together, to wholly transform the United States’ long-standing family-based immigration system, which allows all immigrants to seek a new and better life in the United States, regardless of their [financial] means”.

The lawsuit challenges the legality of the following three rules:

  • The US Department of State (DOS) January 3, 2018 changes to the public charge provisions of its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) governing consular processing, which led to a 12-fold increase in visa denials, largely against nonwhite immigrants;
  • The DOS October 11, 2019 Interim Final Rule, which changes the public charge regulations that pertain at the point of consular processing and would require DOS to apply the same enjoined the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “public charge” criteria to Caribbean and other immigrants who must undergo consular processing before entering the US to unify with their parents, children and spouses; and
  • The Presidential Proclamation Suspending the Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the Health Care System, issued on October 4, 2019, which would bar entry to any immigrant who cannot demonstrate the ability to obtain certain types of private health insurance within 30 days of arrival.

The courts should not allow the administration to circumvent numerous court injunctions…’

— attorney Ghita Schwarz

“Unsurprisingly, like so many other Trump policies, these immigration rules harm people of colour the most. The courts should not allow the administration to circumvent numerous court injunctions, based on determinations that the public charge criteria are likely unlawful and unconstitutional, simply by applying that criteria via different agencies,” said Ghita Schwarz, senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.