AG Raoul files suit against Trump immigration change

Duckworth, Garcia join in criticizing ‘heartless’ new rules

Attorney General Kwame Raoul has filed suit against the Trump administration’s attempt to implement a new “public charge” rule on immigrants. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Attorney General Kwame Raoul has filed suit against the Trump administration’s attempt to implement a new “public charge” rule on immigrants. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

The state attorney general has filed suit against the latest Trump administration attempts to intimidate aspiring immigrants.

Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of a dozen state attorneys general in filing suit against what’s become known as President Trump’s proposed “public charge” rule — placing restrictions on and even threatening deportation for immigrants who use public-assistance programs like food stamps and public housing.

According to a news release put out last week by the Attorney General’s Office, “Under the changes, if an immigrant who is legally in the country uses benefits to which he or she is entitled, including food assistance to feed their U.S. citizen children, or housing assistance, the federal government may revoke their legal status, exposing them to deportation.”

The rule change would expand the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to deny visa renewal or permanent residence to anyone it even “predicts will use a broad range of short-term benefits, without any clear formula for making that determination.”

“This new rule is another attempt by the federal government to intimidate immigrants,” Raoul said. “Under this rule, if individuals use the public assistance to which they are legally entitled, even if it is to feed their children who are U.S. citizens, they would jeopardize their chances of later renewing their visa or becoming permanent residents. I am committed to protecting the rights of immigrants and ensuring illegal and discriminatory rules like this do not stand.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth also expressed concern about the proposed new rules last week. “As I said when the Trump administration first suggested they might do this almost a year ago: This proposal is as heartless as it is dangerous,” Duckworth said in a statement. “My family teetered on the brink of homelessness when I was in high school and relied on food stamps to survive. My own mother is an immigrant — and if this proposal had been in place during those years, my family could’ve been forced to choose between her citizenship and going hungry.

“No family should have to face that choice. No one should have to decide between seeking urgently needed health care — or shelter, or food — and getting ripped away from their loved ones. This proposal isn’t just unfair. It’s cruel, unacceptable, and un-American.”


“This proposal isn’t just unfair. It’s cruel, unacceptable, and un-American.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Calling it “yet another devastating, racially motivated attack on the immigrant community,” U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said, “The policy seeks to punish families for using the public benefits they are eligible for and forces families to choose between food, health care, and housing, and placing their legal immigration status in jeopardy. Ultimately, the policy harms those seeking to pursue a legal pathway to citizenship or legal permanent status.”

The Chicago congressman estimated that 1 million people in Illinois, including 379,000 children, could feel the effects of the new rule, perhaps as much as 13 percent of the population in Cook County. He labeled it “yet another cynical attempt by President Trump to advance his agenda against immigrants,” adding it’s “intended to instill fear and deter eligible families from applying for federal assistance programs.” Garcia cited a recent Urban Institute study finding that more than one in five immigrants “considered not applying for federal aid programs they were eligible for out of fear that doing so would hinder their green card application status.”

Garcia is backing congressional legislation intended to block implementation of the new rules.

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli adopted the “public charge” phrase into a reworking of Emma Lazurus’s famous poem “The New Colossus” on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Asked by a National Public Radio interviewer about the lines reading, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Cuccinelli amended them to say, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”