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Biden Administration Drops Appeal of Ruling Obtained by Goldberg Kohn Litigation Team Invalidating Public Charge Rule; Seventh Circuit Appeals Court Rejects Texas Bid to Revive Case

March 17, 2021

On November 2, 2020, Goldberg Kohn's Litigation team won a significant court victory for our client Cook County when U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feinerman issued a summary judgment ruling on Cook County's complaint to invalidate the "public charge" rule issued in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  In Judge Feinerman's detailed ruling, he found that the DHS rule is unlawful because it "violates the Administrative Procedure Act," exceeds the Department's authority under existing law, and is "arbitrary and capricious."  The DHS policy holds that potential reliance on virtually any public aid could be used to deny legal permanent residence status or even entry to the U.S.  Agreeing with GK's arguments, Judge Feinerman vacated the public charge rule not just in Cook County or in this particular case, but throughout the country.  He further held that the ruling would be immediately effective.

Following that ruling, the prior administration appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which stayed the application of Judge Feinerman’s ruling pending the appeal, meaning that the challenged DHS public charge rule remained in effect.  On March 9, however, the Biden administration dropped its appeal of Judge Feinerman’s ruling, meaning that the stay imposed pending the appeal was lifted, and that enforcement of the challenged DHS public charge rule became unlawful throughout the country.  The Biden administration also dropped several Supreme Court appeals of preliminary injunctions barring the application of the challenged public charge rule, including a preliminary injunction entered on Cook County’s behalf and affirmed by the Seventh Circuit. 

After widespread news coverage of the Biden administration's decision, the Texas attorney general's office led Texas and several other states in an effort to salvage the wealth test. Those states asked to intervene in the Seventh Circuit appeal in order to revive and pursue the appeal of Judge Feinerman’s November 2, 2020 ruling that vacated the DHS public charge rule on a nationwide basis. On March 15, the Seventh Circuit rejected that attempt without comment.

As a result of these developments and because of the judgment entered by Judge Feinerman in favor of Cook County and its co-plaintiff, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Inc. (ICIRR), the challenged public charge rule is no longer being enforced anywhere in the country.

David Morrison leads the GK litigation team, which consists of Steve LevyJuan ArguelloTakayuki Ono, and Louise Tennis. They have worked hand-in-hand for over a year and a half with Cook County State’s Attorneys Jessica Scheller and Lauren Miller, and with counsel for co-plaintiff ICIRR, to achieve this remarkable result.

Below are some of the news articles that have discussed these recent developments:

Law360 – 7th Circ. Denies Texas' Bid to Revive Public Charge Rule

Law360 – Biden Stops Defending Trump's Immigration Wealth Test

SCOTUS Blog – Cases testing Trump’s “public charge” immigration rule are dismissed

Associated Press – Biden administration won't defend Trump immigration rule

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