In Queens, where nearly half of its 2.3 million residents are immigrants, the news that three federal judges temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s new “public charge” rule reverberated across the borough Friday just days before it was scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The rule aimed to deny green cards and visas to immigrants that use or have used government assistance programs.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz called it “the federal government’s latest attack on immigrant families and a move to restrict legal immigration” when she hosted a town hall meeting with the New York Immigration Coalition last month.
“Without SNAP and housing assistance, children would fall behind in school,” Katz said. “In an emergency, constituents would be afraid to turn to their government for help. The proposed expansion of the public charge determination would compromise our ability to build public trust.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit in August against the administration arguing that it would have short- and long-term impacts on public health and the economy.
“The history of our nation is inextricably tied to our immigrant communities, and because of today’s decision, so too will be our future,” James said. “Once again, the courts have thwarted the Trump administration’s attempts to enact rules that violate both our laws and our values, sending a loud and clear message that they cannot rewrite our story to meet their agenda. This rule would have had devastating impacts on all New Yorkers, citizens and non-citizens alike, and today’s decision is a critical step in our efforts to uphold the rule of law. As long as our communities are under attack from this federal government, we will never stop fighting.”
The lawsuit was joined by Connecticut, Vermont and the city of New York.
“The court’s decision to halt the public charge rule from going into effect nationwide is only further proof of something we already know, the president’s policies are xenophobic, with no basis in fact or reality,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We’ll continue to fight him every step of the way.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the court’s decision an important win for the country.
“The discriminatory rule was clearly crafted to target low-income immigrants of color and punish them for being poor by denying them entry to our country,” Cuomo said. “We are a nation of immigrants, and it is repugnant to our values as Americans to turn away those who with to come to our country in search of a better life for their families.”
In his decision, Judge George B. Daniels, of the Southern District of New York, wrote, “The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification. It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility. Immigrants have always come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their posterity. With or without help, most succeed.”
Javier H. Valdés, the co-executive director of the Jackson Heights-based Make the Road New York, called the decision a “major defeat for the Trump administration’s unlawful tactic to impose a racist wealth test” on the immigration system.
“People should be able to access vital and life-saving benefits without having to worry if they could remain with their families,” Valdés said. “We will continue to stand up to this administration’s onslaught on immigrants and people of color, we will fight and protect our communities from inhumane policy changes every step of the way.”