Santa Clara County Sues Over Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Policy

Santa Clara County has joined a host of local governments and several states in suing to block the Trump administration’s so-called “public charge” rule, which imposes major roadblocks on the path to citizenship.

“The Trump administration’s new rule is an unlawful, foolish attack on immigrant communities,” County Counsel James Williams said in announcing the legal challenge. “It will hurt all members of our communities by reducing access to critical health and safety-net services that create healthier communities for all of our residents.”

The federal policy unveiled Monday bolsters ability of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny green cards to legal immigrants if they have ever used public assistance such as Medicaid or food stamps. The new rule is set to go into effect Oct. 15.

Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli justified the policy by saying it ensures that immigrants can support themselves and reinforces the ideals of “self-sufficiency” and “personal ideals.”

But critics say the rule lacks any reasonable justification.

With the deadline for the rule’s enactment two months away, Silicon Valley politicians and immigrant advocacy groups have voiced fierce opposition to the impending policy. Penalizing legal immigrants for accessing public services will create a negative ripple effect on communities and destabilize families, civil rights groups cautioned.

“They [the DHS] acknowledged themselves that there will be an adverse impact,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) told San Jose Inside in a phone interview earlier this week.

Indeed, DHS acknowledged in a document that the rule could lead to “worse health outcomes,” “increased use of emergency rooms,” and “increased rates of poverty.” The agency predicts that 2.5 percent of immigrants participating in government benefit programs will stop using them.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo condemned the policy as inhumane.

“It is unconscionable to force immigrant families to choose between lawful status and food,” he declared in a statement to reporters earlier this week.

Immigrant-friendly lawmakers have launched a counter-attack, however.

The nonprofit Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN) is backing HR 3222, the so-called “No Federal Funds for Public Charge” bill, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park). Should it become law, Chu’s proposal would restrict the DHS from using any federal funds to enforce the public charge rule.

“These are taxpaying immigrants that pay into these benefits,” SIREN Director Maricela Gutiérrez says. “We are talking to local members of Congress to support the legislation.”

Nicholas Chan is a journalist who covers politics, culture and current events in Silicon Valley. Follow him on Twitter at @nicholaschanhk.


  1. Why do we pass these laws and then ignore them? If we don’t like the law we should rescind it, not just ignore it.
    If you don’t like a law and you choose to ignore it, do you think you wont still be arrested for breaking the law?
    Then why do we allow our politicians to do just that??? Should the not have to follow the law too? Is there really a Two Tier system of justice in this country? One for the politicians and the uber wealthy and one for the rest of us?
    And what’s more, they are ALREADY in the government and maybe even voted to pass these laws to begin with, so why should the not now be responsible for rescinding them????

    The hypocrisy is so thick from these people you could cut it with a knife.

  2. > But critics say the rule lacks any reasonable justification.

    Would there be any reasonable justification for objecting to anyone just showing up and helping themselves to your stuff?

  3. My first objection to Mr. Chan’s pile of claptrap is the substitution of the word immigrants for the targeted problem
    “illegal immigrants”! Lets get it strait Mr. Chan. These people knowingly broke the law coming here or staying here,
    They are not citizens and are not entitled to benefits that most of our citizens aren’t even eligible for.
    The rule imposes hardships on people that pushed their way to the front of the line kicked open the door open and sat down at the table and demanded dinner at our expense. Nuts to that Mr. Chan!

    This is not penalizing legal immigrants Mr. Chan and you damn well know it. This is fake news propaganda at it’s worst.

  4. The oath of office of the POTUS requires that the POTUS – each and every one – uphold the Constitution and see to it that ALL laws of the US are followed.

    The ‘public charge’ law or rule has existed in one form or another for nearly three hundred (!!) years, going all the way back to 1645. Public charge rules were codified by individual states following American Independence, and public charge rules were first codified as national law in the immigration act of1882 and later reaffirmed in Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Public charge laws exist in Australia and many other nations.

    Despite the clamoring of critics claiming that enforcement of the law ‘lacks reasonable justification’, I would say there is ample justification, namely that American Citizens should NEVER be required to financially support (by means of taxation) any immigrant, ever, legal or otherwise. And, this belief has, obviously, been shared by everyone who ever passed or supported public charge laws for the past almost 300 years.

    Lastly, I would argue that simply enforcing existing law is more than sufficient reason for POTUS to reaffirm that Section 212(a)(4) be enforced. That is POTUS’s legal duty.

  5. When you go to the forest, you will likely see a sign “DO NOT FEED THE BEARS” – – Is the gov’t being mean and cruel to the bears? Not likely – – the intent is that the forest service DOES NOT WANT THE BEARS to become dependent on handouts.
    Do you see what this is leading too snowflakes?
    it is UNHEALTHY to have ANYONE come here and then get dependent on handouts. Does that make sense? in this country we are afforded Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. in the USA you are given just that – – Life- – Liberty and – – – if your hungry – – – you can pursue some means of gaining nourishment for yourself and your cubs. that is Life – right there – and everyone has the liberty to pursue it. Just DON’T FEED THE BEARS (and other creatures) please

  6. It is not clear to me what type of legal immigrants will be affected. The information state legal immigrants not being able to obtain a green card if receiving public funding or benefits. Who are these legal immigrants? SJI lease explain!

    • Felix,
      I think this is bate and switch, some of these people may be dependents of legal immigrants or people that overstayed a tourist or education visa. I’m always suspicious any time someone uses the term immigrant, migrant or refugee.

      I have no problem with immigrants that were legally granted access to the country and are intent on becoming permanent good Americans citizens.

      Migrants are temporary, meaning they were granted a temporary green card to work and then would migrate back to their home country, I’m Ok with that ! That would include H1B workers etc.

      Refugees, now we begin to have a problem. Refugees are typically granted access temporarily, but maybe granted permanent status and BENAFITS depending on their conditions. They may also be returned if conditions changed favorably from where they came. They are not immigrants until the host country grants them that status.
      Country’s that take these people in have the right to know who they are how many they are and where they are staying and what they are doing, BECAUSE IT’S THEIR COUNTRY!

      The term illegal immigrant or undocumented has disappeared from the lefts vocabulary. Those terms to indicate someone that has done one of the following,

      A; Over stayed some kind of visa and is now living or working or collecting welfare that they are not entitled to, taking away some resource that would have gone to some homeless American, all resources being finite in the liberal mindset.

      B; Jumped a boarder fence, dug under the fence, swam the river, crossed the desert, was smuggled in by boat, car or plane or just fell out of the sky, uninvited, with the intent of staying for legitimate or criminal activity.

      These people are not immigrants until the country they are in grants them that statue and says they are.

      • Gun, I know undocumented immigrant are not the ones being affected by this. If they are deported, they try again. Most of them work hard and receive no benefits. They also pay rent and other taxes. This “reporting’ is not clear. It appears to me it is a specific group that is going to be affected. Due to Trump’s charges on Google’s CEO, it may be those employees that would be affected. Hey Trump going after Google is an evil versus evil war I would like to see happening. Defeating Trump is easier than defeating tech evil. I support Trump going after google. Then he is gone in 2020.

        • > I support Trump going after google.

          Good news, FEXXY!

          The conversion is beginning to take. I think we may have gotten you over the hump.

          I’m hopeful now that their still may be a chance to save your immortal soul.

  7. President Trump is simply seeking to enforce a law that has been in the US Code for many decades. Continuing to grant goods and services to millions of people who cannot support themselves and their excessive number of children is unsustainable

    • We MUST exclude free lunch programs as a disqualifying factor. Why? Failing schools are the norm for these populations. In my county, every underperforming school send home free lunch forms, as the low performance tries to eliminate the performance failures assumed are caused by poor nutrition.

      Every child is signed up for free lunch, parents do not have a choice nor should anyone be penalized for this attempt to correct a minor factor in low performing schools. Every family in low performing schools would be denied citizenship.

      I don’t know what people are thinking, whose gonna work two minimum wage jobs like these people do?

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