Boston Strong news – Boston, MA: MA Office of the AG reports 2.06.2020.

AG Files Amicus Briefs Challenging the Federal Government’s Efforts to Implement Unlawful and Cruel Immigration Policies.

BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing two amicus briefs opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to block immigrants from securing visas to enter the United States based on its reinterpretation of “public charge.”

The amicus briefs, filed today in support of lawsuits by immigration advocates and individuals across the country, call on the Trump Administration to immediately halt unprecedented new rules that direct the State Department to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who are likely to use government assistance programs in the future. These new rules would also deny green cards and visas to immigrants who cannot prove they will be able to pay for private health insurance or for medical costs that may arise during their time in the United States.

“The Trump Administration is trying to scare immigrants and prevent Massachusetts families from accessing basic services like healthcare and housing,” said AG Healey. “We cannot allow these new rules to overturn decades of immigration policy and deprive people of a path to citizenship in our country.”

The Administration’s latest effort to block immigrants from entry into the United States arises from its sweeping reinterpretation of “public charge” that would deny entry and a path to citizenship to immigrants who access critical government-funded health, nutrition, and housing assistance. One of the restrictions challenged by the brief filed today would prevent applicants from receiving 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 conflicts with Congress’s objective to provide all citizens and documented immigrants in the U.S. with comprehensive, affordable health coverage, and will 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 could increase regulatory burdens and health care costs for states.

In August 2019, AG Healey joined a coalition of attorneys general in suing the Trump Administration over its reinterpretation of “public charge” as implemented in a related rule by the Department of  Homeland Security. Where “public charge” was historically defined as someone primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, the Trump Administration’s new rule redefines the term as a noncitizen who receives common forms of federal and state assistance, even in small amounts and for short periods of time. The attorneys general contend that this change violates federal law, imposes significant costs on their states, undermines public health and welfare, disproportionately burdens communities of color and individuals with disabilities, and threatens the immigration status of hundreds of thousands of immigrant families across the country.

In January 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could enforce its public charge rule while cases challenging it continue in the lower courts.

Today’s briefs are available here and here, and the coalitions were led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Letitia James and included Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, 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 several counties and cities across the country.