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SF, SCC Counties Win Final Victory In Challenge To Trump Administration's 'Public Charge' Rule; DOJ Drops Appeal

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Bay Area lawmakers did a final victory lap in the challenge to Trump administration's 'public charge' rule, after the Department of Justice dropped its appeal and the Supreme Court dismissed the case on Tuesday.

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties were the first to file a lawsuit in 2019, seeking to block the Department of Homeland Security's implementation of a so-called 'wealth test' on immigrants applying for green cards. Eventually, Maine, Pennsylvania, Oregon and the District of Columbia would join the suit.

The new 'public charge' criteria would have added Medicaid, food stamps or housing aid to a longstanding criteria to determine eligibility. The lawsuit argued it would discourage legal immigrants from obtaining needed services, shift health costs to local emergency services, and increase the risk of infectious diseases.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the new rule an "an abusive attack on our immigrant communities designed to make our most vulnerable residents choose between critical services or remaining in the United States."

In January 2020, the Supreme court gave the Trump administration permission to enforce the new criteria while while the challenges were litigated in the courts, but later that same year in December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted an injunction against any enforcement.

Finally, on Tuesday, the Department of Justice dropped its appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case.

"This case is over, and this victory means the American Dream is alive and well," said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera in a statement. "Hard-working immigrants seeking a better life should not be denied a path to the American dream because of their economic status. They should not be forced to forgo help with food, healthcare and housing out of fear."

Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams called this latest salvo a "huge victory for communities across the country," adding, "This case was about protecting the health and well-being of our entire community, and today's victory affirms these core American values."

The Supreme Court and appellate courts have dismissed all 'public charge' cases across the country, thus the 'public charge' rule has been vacated nationwide.


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