CHICAGO, IL—Cook County and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) secured a victory for immigrants today when a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois ruled that the Public Charge Rule violated the Administrative Procedures Act and effective immediately bars the Trump Administration from enforcing the Rule across the United States.
In August of 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) redefined “public charge” as “an alien who receives one or more public benefits [...] for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).” This Trump definition was ambiguous, and immigrants became fearful that by using governmental benefits they would disqualify from becoming citizens of the United States (by banning eligibility to receiving a Green Card), and ultimately could result in deportation. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx partnered with ICIRR to challenge it.
The Trump Administration violated The Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which “governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations. It includes requirements for publishing notices of proposed and final rulemaking in the Federal Register and provides opportunities for the public to comment on notices of proposed rulemaking.”
Filed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO), on behalf of Cook County and its Health and Hospital System, the suit successfully argued:
- that when individuals lack health care coverage, they are less likely to seek out preventative medicine, including diagnostic tests and vaccines, and instead more likely to rely on more expensive emergency care.
- in turn, this increases the county-wide risk of communicable diseases will increase at a time when Cook County’s Health and Hospital System already faces significant challenges increases due to COVID-19.
- the Trump Administration issued the Rule in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations
Counties, like Cook County, Illinois, have seen a burdensome impact from Trump’s public charge rule change as many immigrants ditched their government-funded health insurance (Medicaid) but are still receiving medical care, and therefore the County has had to foot these medical bills.
Today’s ruling was made possible by the efforts of the CCSAO’s Affirmative & Impact Litigation Section, which launched as part of the Civil Actions Bureau in September of 2019. The ICIRR is represented by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Legal Council for Health Justice, National Housing Law Project, and Sidley Austin LLP.
“As we all continue to be impacted by COVID-19, it is vital that no one is fearful of accessing health care. The court’s decision to block enforcement of the Public Charge Rule re-opens doors for immigrants to access vital services like health care. I applaud the legal teams and advocates for their commitment to stopping this unlawful and discriminatory policy,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Cook County v. Wolf Timeline of Events
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office works to uphold public safety through the fair and efficient administration of justice. Follow @SAKimFoxx and @CookCountySAO on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news updates.