AG James and Coalition File Two Briefs Fighting Back Against
Trump Administration’s Illegal Attempts to Block Immigrants from Securing Visas

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today took efforts to fight three actions the Trump Administration is taking to further restrict the approval of visas for immigrants seeking to enter the United States. First, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of 22 attorneys general from around the nation, as well a handful of local municipalities, in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in support of a number of nationwide immigration advocates and individuals. Attorney General James and the coalition are pushing for an immediate halt to the implementation of these new rules that aim to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who are likely to use government assistance programs in the future. These new rules also deny green cards and visas to those who cannot guarantee that they will have certain types of private health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the United States or alternatively have the means to pay for any foreseeable medical costs that may arise during their time in the United States.

“For more than 100 years, the welcoming words of the Statue of Liberty have greeted immigrants seeking new opportunities in America,” said Attorney General James. “But, once again, the Trump Administration is discriminating against those who don’t have the financial means to buy their way into this country by cherry picking which immigrants can or cannot enter the United States. Diverse groups of immigrants — including those of diverse economic circumstances — make great contributions to this nation, and despite the president’s continued assaults on these groups our coalition will never stop fighting.”

Today’s amicus brief — led by Attorney General James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — involves three specific rules and regulations the Trump Administration seeks to implement through the Department of State. If implemented, these actions would allow the executive branch to unilaterally reshape immigration policies and severely limit legal immigration to the United States in ways that Congress never authorized.

Two of the actions being challenged today by the coalition involve changes to incorporate a sweeping interpretation of “public charge,” which courts around the country have already found likely to be unlawful in enjoining a similar rule by the Department of Homeland Security. In 2017, nearly half a million newly arrived individuals — including more than 107,000 individuals who arrived in New York State — received visas as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or under a family-sponsored visa preference. However, the new restrictions imposed here would likely result in hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents losing the opportunity to be united with their loved ones from abroad, including spouses, siblings, and adult children.

Further, immigrants contribute to national, state, and local economies by paying taxes, starting businesses, contributing to state and local labor forces, and consuming goods and services, so imposing unreasonable and unlawful barriers to entry would pose substantial economic harm to not only the states, but also the entire U.S. economy. Nationally, immigrants pay over $405.4 billion in taxes, and immigrant-owned companies employ over 7.9 million workers. In New York alone, immigrant-led households paid approximately $15.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2014 and wielded $103.3 billion in spending power. Moreover, immigrants made up more than 27-percent of the state’s labor force in 2015.

The third action the coalition argues against today is a presidential proclamation that bars applicants from receiving immigrant visas unless they can establish that they either “will be covered by approved health insurance” within 30 days of entry to the U.S. or that they have the “financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” This health care proclamation conflicts with Congress’s objectives of providing all citizens and documented immigrants residing in the United States with comprehensive, affordable health coverage, and will thus adversely affect states’ health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, the proclamation directs immigrants to purchase health insurance that does not comply with the ACA, which may increase uncompensated care costs and harm insurance markets, while increasing regulatory burdens and health care costs for states.

The coalition supports the plaintiffs’ arguments that these three actions are unconstitutional and violate the Administrative Procedure Act because they are contrary to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Additionally, the rules were not promulgated with any notice or an opportunity for comment and are arbitrary and capricious. Plaintiffs in the case of Make the Road New York, et al. v. Pompeo, et al. include Make the Road New York, the African Services Committee, the Central American Refugee Center New York, Catholic Charities Community Services, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and a number of individuals.

Also, today, Attorney General James and a coalition of 24 attorneys general, as well as a number of local municipalities, filed a separate amicus brief in Doe v. Trump in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the presidential proclamation imposing health care insurance requirements on immigrant visa applicants. By imposing new health insurance requirements, the Trump Administration is attempting to unlawfully prevent up to hundreds of thousands of people from obtaining visas each year. The amicus brief also asserts that the Trump Administration’s actions undermine federal law and health care access.

In August 2019, Attorney General James and a coalition of attorneys general filed a separate lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, which is applicable to immigrants who are already living in the country. In October 2019, the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order to preliminarily halt the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule. The Administration has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. While the case makes its way through the courts, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the rule can take immediate effect.

Joining Attorney General James in filing today’s brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘I, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the County of Santa Clara, and the Cities of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

Joining Attorney General James in filing today’s brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘I, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Counties of San Francisco and Santa Clara, and the Cities of Baltimore, Carrboro, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Union City.

This matter was handled by Senior Assistant Solicitor General Judith N. Vale, Deputy Solicitor General Steven C. Wu, and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood — all of the Division of Appeals and Opinions.

Lockwood Law

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