Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday the state may sue the Trump administration if it moves forward with a reported plan to limit legal status for immigrants who have used public welfare programs or purchased health insurance.
The proposal, as reported by NBC News, would make it harder for immigrants to obtain green cards or legal status in the United States if they have purchased health insurance under Obamacare or used children’s health insurance, food stamps or other benefits. It’s an expansion of current rules that already consider some public benefits, like Social Security insurance, into decisions about legal status, NBC reported.
Cuomo, in a statement, called the proposal “ugly” and threatened legal action if it was promulgated.
“This plan is ugly, it is cruel, and it is shamefully un-American,” Cuomo said. “After tearing apart immigrant families fleeing violence at the border, the anti-family Trump administration is waging a new war on immigrant families who have come to this country seeking the American dream.”
Details on the proposal have not been released by the Trump administration, but immigration attorneys have already started to react. Elsa Ayoub, an immigration attorney in Manhattan, said it will greatly affect her colleagues and their clients.
“It is an enormous expansion of which publicly funded benefits may be considered to make a public charge determination,” Ayoub said. “The rule also seeks to deny visas, permanent residence and citizenship to those whose USC family members have used public benefits—when those family members are perfectly entitled to use those benefits.”
It’s unclear what legal route the state would take in fighting the Trump proposal, though some of the latest immigration arguments from New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office have partly focused on the state’s responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of its residents. Ayoub said that could be among the many valid arguments the state could make to reverse the rule if it’s enacted.
“The negative potential health care impact is tremendous, and it is not in line with the original intended purpose of the rule,” Ayoub said. “Many will choose to forgo those benefits to preserve their immigration cases.”
Cuomo’s lawsuit would be the latest from New York against immigration-related policies imposed by the Trump administration. Underwood’s office has already been involved in a multistate lawsuit against the administration over its family separation policy at the southern border. Underwood’s office is also leading a lawsuit against the administration over its proposal to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to Cuomo’s statement on Wednesday.