Resource: City and County of San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

By: Constitutional Accountability Center

January 23, 2020

Constitutional Accountability Center

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides that an individual may be excluded or removed from the United States if he or she is likely to become a “public charge.” Throughout American history, the term “public charge” has been understood to refer to those who receive cash benefits from the government for subsistence or who experience long-term institutionalization. In August 2019, the Department of Homeland Security promulgated a new rule redefining that term. Under the Trump Administration’s rule, an individual may be deemed inadmissible to the United States or may be denied an adjustment of immigration status based solely on the acceptance of non-cash public benefits, including assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 Housing Assistance, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, Medicaid (with some exceptions), and certain other forms of subsidized housing. Several nonprofit organizations, cities, counties, and states challenged this rule in various federal district courts, and in October 2019, the District Court for the Northern District of California concluded that the rule is likely unlawful and issued a preliminary injunction to keep it from going into effect. In January 2020, CAC filed an amici curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of legal historians urging the court to affirm the district court’s judgment,excluding%20immigrants%20from%20the%20country.