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LAS Attorneys Back in Court to Stop “Public Charge” Rule Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Attorneys from The Legal Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Paul Weiss are representing plaintiffs Make the Road New York, and others in a case that challenges implementation of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State’s “public charge” rule, as well as a presidential proclamation that bans immigrants from entry if they can’t afford health insurance, in the middle of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Over the course of the three-hour hearing, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels pressed government attorneys on conflicting guidance DHS had given stating that immigrants wouldn’t be penalized for seeking medical care, and raised the possibility of freezing the ruling, according to Law 360.

Legal Aid and partner organizations argued that the DHS COVID-19 related guidance guaranteeing medical care supersedes its own “public charge” policies, invalidating them. The judge appeared to agree.

“Now, we are living in the worst-case scenario,” Judge Daniels said, citing the lawsuit’s claim that the public and immigrants in particular may suffer if they avoid medical care during the pandemic as a result of the rule. “We don’t have to guess about what the possible consequences are. … One of the consequences could be death from coronavirus.”