MANHATTAN (CN) – The Second Circuit refused Wednesday to deny green cards to welfare-reliant immigrants while the government appeals a ruling that found its proposed policy change “repugnant” as well as almost certainly illegal.
The so-called public-charge rule was meant to take effect this past October, making immigrants permanently ineligible for legal permanent residency if they receive public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers. More than half a million people apply for green cards annually, and the government estimated that 382,000 applicants fall into categories that would make them subject to the new “public charge” review.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels blocked the rule on Oct. 11, issuing a nationwide injunction that he found necessary to prevent irreparable harm.
“It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility,” Daniels wrote.
The ruling went on to decry the rule as one that that “will punish individuals for their receipt of benefits provided by our government, and discourages them from lawfully receiving available assistance intended to aid them in becoming contributing members of our society.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James applauded the refusal by the federal appeals court to issue stay of that ruling Wednesday.
“The Trump administration’s attempt to overturn the nationwide block of their Public Charge rule has been DENIED,” James said in a statement. “The rule is dangerous, disruptive, and unlawful. We will continue to fight against it.”
New York was joined by Connecticut and Vermont, as well as New York City, when it sued over the rule change in August.
Immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York, which led a separate suit against the rule change, said Wednesday that the Second Circuit’s decision was “grounded in the clear intent of Congress and the consistent history of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
“We look forward to continuing our fight in court until a final decision is reached on the legality of the rule change, and we are thrilled that immigrants across the country remain protected,” representatives for Make the Road said in a statement.
Representatives for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to request for comment Wednesday.
The Second Circuit issued its brief order just a day after hearing arguments. As the government’s appeal proceeds on the merits, the court set a Feb. 14 deadline for the final brief, with oral arguments expected shortly thereafter.
The panel was composed entirely of Democratic appointees: Judge Amalya Kearse was appointed by President Carter, Guido Calabresi by President Clinton, and Susan Carney by President Obama. The Southern District’s Judge Daniels is a Clinton appointee as well.
Though the Richmond, Va.-based Fourth Circuit and the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit lifted two similar injunctions last month, the injunction from Daniels in New York continues to apply across the country.
Representatives of Trump’s Justice Department have said the rule change is necessary to ensure that applicants gaining legal residency status are self-sufficient.