SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general calling on Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, for a second time, to halt implementation of its “Public Charge” Rule while the COVID-19 outbreak and response are ongoing. Cuccinelli is a member of the White House coronavirus task force.
The rule unnecessarily targets working immigrants and their families by turning the use of critical health, nutrition, and housing programs that supplement their modest incomes into barriers to lawful admission to the United States. The letter by the attorneys general asks the Administration to halt the policy which discourages people from accessing healthcare they are entitled to in the midst of a public health crisis. The federal government’s own analysis predicted that the new Public Charge policy would increase the spread of infectious diseases.
"To protect all our families facing the unprecedented public health threat of the coronavirus, we are calling on DHS to halt implementation of its Public Charge Rule,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This is not the time to discourage any of our neighbors, coworkers, or the community-at-large from complying with protective measures needed to prevent and contain the coronavirus. It is not just prudent but imperative that our immigrant neighbors who live and work among us not fear participating with us in those protective measures."
Attorney General Becerra has raised concerns about the Trump Administration’s proposed Public Charge Rule from the beginning. Last year, he detailed how the rule would negatively impact California’s public health, social services, housing, educational programs, and economy. Shortly afterward, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit asserting that the rule would have a chilling effect that would discourage many immigrants, who are not otherwise subject to the rule, from accessing benefits that they need. The Attorney General also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the rule’s implementation. California’s case is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
A copy of the letter is available here.