Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Two standards affect the court's determination, the standard applicable to district courts for preliminary injunctions, and the standard for appellate courts for stays pending appeal. The district court must apply a four-factor standard: A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish 1 that he is likely to succeed on the merits, 2 that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, 3 that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and 4 that an injunction is in the public interest. Alternatively, serious questions going to the merits' and a balance of hardships that tips sharply towards the plaintiff can support issuance of a preliminary injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest.
Since 1882, when the Congress enacted the first comprehensive immigration statute, U.S. law has prohibited the admission to the United States of "any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge." Although the precise formulation of this provision has been amended regularly in the succeeding century and a quarter, the basic prohibition and the phrase "public charge" remains. Most recently, in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide that "any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible." In making this determination, "the consular officer or the Attorney General shall at a minimum" take five factors into account: age; health; family status; assets, resources, and financial status; and education and skills. Under long-standing practice, consular officers and the Attorney General consider these factors under a "totality of the circumstances" test. In 1999, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), providing guidance to the public and INS field officers, defined "public charge" as an "alien who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence" as demonstrated by either "institutionalization for long-term care at government expense" or "receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance." Although INS determined that the receipt of cash benefits received under a public program would be considered a factor in determining whether an alien was likely to become a public charge, it stated that non-cash benefits would not be taken into account for public-charge purposes. In August 2019, following notice and comment, the Department of Homeland Security adopted a new rule, redefining the term "public charge" to require a consideration of not only cash benefits, but also certain non-cash benefits. Under DHS's Final Rule a public charge is "an alien who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period." Prior to the Final Rule taking effect in October 2019, various states, municipalities, and organizations brought suits in California and Washington seeking a preliminary injunction against the implementation of the rule. The district court granted a preliminary injunction on the basis of the APA, effective against implementation of the rule in the plaintiff states. The district court granted a preliminary injunction on the basis of the APA claims and issued a nationwide injunction. DHS seeks a stay of both preliminary injunctions.
Should the motions for stay of the preliminary injunction be granted?
At this stage, the court found that the States had sufficiently alleged grounds for U.S. Const. art. III standing and DHS's petition for a stay was not moot. DHS was likely to succeed in its argument that the Final Rule redefining "public charge" should not be set aside as contrary to law. DHS had shown that there was a strong likelihood that its decision to consider the receipt of in-kind government assistance as part of its totality-of-the-circumstances test was a reasonable interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act and did not violate the Rehabilitation Act. The Final Rule's definition of "public charge" was consistent with the relevant statutes, and DHS's action was not arbitrary or capricious. DHS had shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits, that it would suffer irreparable harm, and that the balance of the equities and public interest favored a stay.