Santa County and San Francisco announced they have voluntarily ended their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule now that the rule is defunct and cannot be resurrected.
This week’s dismissal, in the “City and County of San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services et al.,” marks the successful conclusion of a four-year legal battle through which the two local governments had blocked a Trump Administration rule which would have required a “wealth test” for immigrants entering the U.S. or going through the naturalization process. At the time, the rule instilled fear in immigrant communities that dissuaded them from participating in civic life or public benefit programs.
The announcement was made jointly last week by Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams and San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. Their counties had brought the first lawsuit in the nation to block the Trump-era rule,
Since Santa Clara and San Francisco filed their lawsuit in 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor by blocking the rule from taking effect; the Biden Administration rescinded the rule when it came into office.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied an Arizona-led coalition’s attempt to defend the rule and, in separate but similar litigation, the high court declined to review a Seventh Circuit decision blocking the rule from going into effect nationwide.
“We were the first to stand up in court and say the Trump Administration’s public charge rule was not only deeply harmful to our immigrant communities, but also flatly unlawful. And we have been vindicated at every step,” Williams said in a statement. “We will continue to dedicate our attention and resources to protecting residents from racist and xenophobic attacks. We are and will always be committed to advancing health, well-being, dignity, and equity in all our communities, including our immigrant communities. Government at every level must support and protect families, not marginalize and villainize them.”
“We took this fight all the way to the Supreme Court, and I am thrilled to say we won,” said Chiu. “Immigrant communities can rest assured that the public charge rule has been defeated in court and has been rescinded by the Biden Administration. No one needs to fear seeking the assistance and programs they need. In San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and all across California, we will continue to honor our legacy of welcoming immigrants from all backgrounds and fight any attempts to institute a wealth test for citizenship.”
Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2019 announced a rule on “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” that would have upended nearly 140 years of legal precedent. The Trump Administration sought to radically expand the grounds upon which a person could be deemed likely to become a “public charge,” and thus denied a green card or entry into the United States. By design, the rule would have coerced individuals to forgo or withdraw from critical public benefits and care.
The two Bay Area counties were later joined by several coalitions that also challenged the rule, including groups led by the states of California, Washington and New York; Cook County, Ill.; Baltimore, Md.; the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and Make the Road New York. In October 2019, the County of Santa Clara and San Francisco secured a preliminary injunction that blocked the Trump Administration from implementing its rule. Courts across the country—including the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth, Seventh, and Second Circuits—have unanimously agreed that the Trump-era rule was unlawful and prohibited it from being implemented.
While the County of Santa Clara, San Francisco, and the other plaintiffs were prevailing in court, the Biden Administration deleted the Trump-era rule from the Code of Federal Regulations and adopted a new public charge rule that comports with federal immigration law and the Counties’ legal positions.