Women Lawyers on Guard signed onto four amicus briefs on the subject of who is a “public charge,” including La Clinica de la Raza v. Trump; State of California v. Department of Homeland Security; State of New York v. Department of Homeland Security, and Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli.

You may have read in the news that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented regulations that add a significant burden to those who seek to immigrate to the USA. The Immigration and Nationality Act bars an individual from obtaining a green card (and other legal statuses) if they are “likely” to “become a public charge.” Since Congress first introduced the term in 1882, “public charge” has been understood as including very specific programs, i.e. only someone who is dependent on the government to avoid destitution. Congress has never altered this longstanding meaning of “public charge.”

However, the Department of Homeland Security has recently promulgated new regulations, set to take effect in mid-October unless stopped by these pending litigation cases. This rule adds significantly to the programs that immigrants cannot take advantage of and still hope to become legal. In addition, the rules have added a minimum income threshold as well as an English proficiency standard. Those who have studied the regulation have determined that huge swaths of legal citizens could not even meet these tests, and it has already dissuaded legal immigrants from accessing certain programs that have been accessible to them for decades
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The four amicus briefs that we have signed onto inform the court of the particularly detrimental effect this regulation will have on women.

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