New Public Charge Rule Halted by Federal Judge Due to COVID-19

On July 29, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a new temporary injunction against the Department of Homeland Security’s “Public Charge” rule. The rule would have categorized an immigrant as a “public charge” should they access a number of vital public benefits eligible to them and thus threaten their ability to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The injunction, however, effectively bars the implementation and enforcement of this rule nationwide during the COVID-19 national emergency.

The new, stricter rule will be halted as long as the injunction remains in place. Once the declared national emergency ends, the injunction may be lifted. For the time being, however, benefit-seekers may continue to access CalFresh, Public Housing, Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8), and other benefits as they did prior to the new rule.

Any applications for adjustment of immigration status filed on or after July 29, 2020 will be adjudicated based on the previous public charge rule, before it was amended on February 24, 2020. For any questions about how the public charge rule may affect you or your clients, we urge you to consult with an immigration attorney (see below for resources).

We urge you to keep informed of the facts and talk with your community to ensure that people do not disenroll from benefits without all the necessary information. To keep up to date on the latest public charge news, you can visit the Protecting Immigrant Families website, here.

If you still have questions about your status or benefit usage, we encourage you to review the following resources:

· California Department of Social Services’ Public Charge Contact List of organizations that can provide legal consultation and/or education and outreach on public charge can be found here

· A list of Immigration Legal Services in Los Angeles County can be found here

· Los Angeles County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs website can be found here

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to LAHSA’s Legislative Analyst Samantha Vethavanam by email.