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Legal Aid Society applauds the end of the nationwide Public Charge legal fight

The Legal Aid Society (LAS) joins fellow advocates for immigrant communities in applauding the federal government’s dismissal of the Public Charge rule, which has caused the exclusion of immigrants from essential public programs. 

The United States Department of Justice, on March 9, filed
motions to dismiss its defense of the public charge rule, ending a nearly two-year legal battle and invalidating the rule nationwide.

Read more about the ruling from the Shriver Center.

Kimberly Fay, Staff Attorney in the Individual Rights and Social Justice Practice Group, served as LAS’s representative on the Protecting Immigrant Families–Illinois Steering Committee.

Kimberly met regularly with the other steering committee members – including representatives from the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, National Housing Law Project, Legal Council for Heath Justice, and others such as Catholic Charities and DuPage Federation – to share updates on the status of the policy as it was going through the various regulatory and litigation processes.

Kimberly shares the committee also discussed what members were hearing from their constituent communities regarding the revised Public Charge rule.

“Consistently, we were finding that, despite our efforts to disseminate clear, truthful information to our communities, many people were still confused about the policy,” she shares. “This was leading to individuals withdrawing from or not pursuing services and supports for which they were eligible.”

At LAS in particular, we saw an increased number of clients with questions about whether they might be impacted by the Public Charge rule,” shares Kimberly.

In response to these concerns from the community, LAS worked to counsel crime survivor clients who were reticent about applying for state-funded public benefits out of fear that doing so would make them ineligible for immigration relief. Additionally, staff incorporated Public Charge updates into their Community Education Seminar and internal training curricula.

“The revised Public Charge rule was complicated and confusing, even for legal professionals,” shares Kimberly, who adds it was made even more complicated and confusing because of the fits and starts by which it was implemented then rescinded then implemented again.

“I am glad that this news today brings a definitive end to the back-and-forth surrounding the revised Public Charge rule,” she says. “I hope that the undocumented communities we serve can hold fast to this resolution in the midst of so much continued uncertainty.”

Learn more about the work LAS is doing to protect and strengthen families by providing equal access to justice at laschicago.org.