Washington among 13 states suing over public benefit immigration rule

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 06: Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Attorneys general in 13 states have filed a lawsuit challenging a Trump administration rule that’ll allow immigration officials to deny green cards to migrants who use public assistance, including food stamps or housing vouchers.

The federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Richland, Washington, follows a similar one Tuesday by two California counties.

Under new rules unveiled this week, Citizenship and Immigration Services will consider whether applicants have received public assistance among other factors such as education to determine whether to grant legal status.

“The Trump Administration’s message is clear: if you’re wealthy you’re welcome, if you’re poor, you’re not,” said Ferguson. “It forces families into an impossible choice — to sacrifice their dream of becoming Americans in order to provide health care, food or a roof over their children’s heads, or let their families go without in order to remain in the country. This rule is un-American, anti-immigrant and unlawful. I intend to stop it.”

The attorneys general argue the expansion will cause “irreparable harm” and deter noncitizens from seeking “essential” public assistance.

The lawsuit names the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A spokesman didn’t return a message Wednesday.

“Washington will always be a state that stands with immigrants and no action by the Trump administration, either through deeds or words, can change that,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This latest attack on hard-working immigrant families, including those who already have visas or family members who are U.S.-born, does not hold up our nation’s ideals and harms communities throughout our state. I fully support this action by the Attorney General to stand against the devastating impacts of this xenophobic policy.”

The states involved are: Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

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