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Maryland attorney general joins suit contesting Trump administration policy to target immigrants on public benefits

Maryland attorney general joins suit contesting Trump administration policy to target immigrants on public benefits
Brian Frosh, Maryland attorney general, after a news conference in Washington, D.C., on June 12, 2017. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Maryland’s attorney general has joined a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new regulation to limit access to legal immigration procedures if an applicant is found to be on public benefits.

Brian Frosh joined 12 other attorneys general in filing the suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, saying in a statement that Trump’s “public charge” rule “is unlawful and un-American.”

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“Wealth has never been, and should not now be, the primary determinant of an immigrant’s status in America,” Frosh wrote. “The ‘public charge’ rule is unlawful and un-American, and it jeopardizes the health and welfare of children and families.”

The Trump administration announced the regulation Tuesday. It would make it easier to reject green card and visa applications from immigrants found to be on public benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director, has said the regulation would encourage “self-sufficiency” among immigration applicants.

During an interview on CNN, Cuccinelli also revised the poem at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to suggest only immigrants who could “stand on their own two feet” are welcome in America and said the poem “was referring back to people coming from Europe.”

The lawsuit asserts that the federal government violated the Welfare Reform Act and the Administrative Procedure Act in expanding the definition of “public charge” to include those who are deemed to be a financial burden on the system.

“Under long-standing law and policies, a public charge is an individual whose survival depends upon a specific public benefit or who is institutionalized for long-term care at government expense,” Frosh’s office wrote. “This does not include temporary assistance, such as food or housing assistance or health care, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

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