University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name La Clinica de la Raza v. Trump IM-CA-0149
Docket / Court 4:19-cv-04980-PJH ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Civil Rights Challenges to Trump Immigration Enforcement Orders
Attorney Organization National Immigration Law Center
Case Summary
This case is one of several brought nationwide by States, counties, and nonprofit organizations challenging the Trump administration's revised, final public charge rule, which expands the types of programs that the federal government will consider in public charge determinations to now also include ... read more >
This case is one of several brought nationwide by States, counties, and nonprofit organizations challenging the Trump administration's revised, final public charge rule, which expands the types of programs that the federal government will consider in public charge determinations to now also include previously excluded health, nutrition, and housing programs. District court judges from across the country granted preliminary injunctions enjoining the government from implementing the public charge rule but after multiple Circuit Courts and the Supreme Court issued stays of these injunctions, the public charge rule was implemented by the government on February 24, 2020. The district court in this case denied a preliminary injunction but issued a preliminary injunction covering California in a related case. This preliminary injunction was stayed pending the Supreme Court's disposition on petitions for certiorari from the Second and Seventh Circuits on similar injunctions. On February 2, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order calling for DHS to review agency actions related to the implementation of the public charge rule. A little over a month later on March 9, 2021, DHS officially abandoned the rule and the petitions for certiorari were voluntarily dismissed by the government.

Healthcare Providers and Nonprofits Sue Over the Public Charge Rule
On August 16, 2019, several healthcare providers and nonprofit organizations serving immigrant communities filed this suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its acting secretary in his official capacity, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and its acting secretary in his official capacity, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The plaintiffs sought relief to declare the Department of Homeland Security’s Final Rule (the Rule) vacated due to violations of the APA and unconstitutional for violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The plaintiffs also sought to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the Rule from being implemented and enforced. The case was initially assigned to Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley but was reassigned to District Judge Haywood S Gilliam, Jr after the plaintiffs declined to proceed before a magistrate judge.

On August 14, 2019, the DHS published a revised, final public charge rule, which defines personal circumstances that affect the ability of individuals and their families to successfully enter the U.S. or acquire legal permanent resident status (i.e., get a green card). The Rule increases the types of programs that the federal government will consider in public charge determinations to now also include previously excluded health, nutrition, and housing programs. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that if an immigration officer finds that a person seeking a visa is likely to become a public charge, that person is “inadmissible.” The traditional conception of public charge has meant "someone who is primarily dependent on the government to avoid destitution." Under the Rule, an immigrant who uses non-cash benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid (the plaintiffs have alleged that over one-half of U.S. citizens can be expected to use one of these programs at some point in their lifetime), or is deemed likely to receive them in the future, may be found more likely to be a public charge and inadmissible for purposes of a visa or green card application. According to a New York Times article, the new standards would directly affect about 1.2 million applicants annually, primarily immigrants from Africa and Latin America.

The plaintiffs asserted four claims for relief against the defendants. First, the plaintiffs asserted that the Rule's definition of public charge was "contrary to the plain and well- established meaning of that phrase, and to how it has been interpreted and applied since 1882." In support of this claim, the plaintiffs stated that Congress has repeatedly declined to change the longstanding definition of public charge. The plaintiffs also claimed that the Rule is arbitrary and capricious, as it departs from prior law and practice without adequate explanation of the reasons for the departure and consideration for the consequences of the change. Next, the plaintiffs asserted that in enacting the Rule, "defendants acted with improper discriminatory intent and bias against non-white immigrants," in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Lastly, the plaintiffs argued that the Rule was invalid because it was issued by the acting head of the USCIS and that his designation as acting head of USCIS violated the Constitution and federal law.

The plaintiffs sought to enjoin the implementation and enforcement of the Rule to prevent harm to themselves and the immigrant families they represent; "The Rule has and will continue to divert Plaintiffs’ resources, both to address the harmful effects of the Rule and to educate immigrant families about those effects, preventing Plaintiffs from carrying out other aspects of their missions and ensuring that their patients, members, and clients do not forgo critical services to lead healthy, productive, and successful lives."

The case was ordered related to City and County of San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (IM-CA-0156) on August 30, 2019. Accordingly, the case was reassigned to the judge presiding over that related case, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton.

Plaintiffs Seek A Nationwide Preliminary Injunction
On September 4, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, seeking a nationwide injunction enjoining the defendants from implementing and enforcing the Rule and an order postponing the effective date of the Rule pending judicial review. The plaintiffs argued that a preliminary injunction was appropriate because of their likely success on the merits and that absent an injunction, the Rule would cause plaintiffs to suffer irreparable harm "by interfering with their missions, forcing them to divert resources from providing their core services to handling the effect of the Regulation, and depriving them of revenue." In their opposition to the motion for preliminary injunction, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs have "no basis for turning their abstract policy disagreement with the Executive Branch into a nationwide injunction." The defendants asserted that because the plaintiffs are "municipalities rather than [noncitizens] governed by the Rule," they cannot meet jurisdictional requirements. Furthermore, the defendants contended that the Rule was not unlawful, as it "reflects Congress’s delegation of broad authority to the Executive Branch concerning the meaning of 'public charge'" and was "the product of a well-reasoned process that considered the plain text of the statute, legislative intent, statistical evidence, and the substance of hundreds of thousands of comments submitted by the public."

The Court Grants a Geographically Limited Preliminary Injunctions
Following a hearing on October 2, 2019, on October 11, 2019, Judge Hamilton issued an order denying the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, but granted preliminary injunctions in two related cases that would enjoin the defendants from implementing and enforcing the Rule in California, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Maine, and Pennsylvania. 408 F. Supp. 3d 1057.

Judge Hamilton denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction in the current case, finding that the plaintiffs "have not met their burden to demonstrate that there are serious questions concerning whether they are within the challenged statute’s zone of interest, and certainly they have failed to demonstrate a likelihood that they are able to bring the APA actions underlying their present motion."

Judge Hamilton concluded that a preliminary injunction was appropriate in the two related cases because the plaintiff states and counties were likely to succeed on the merits of their APA claims and would be irreparably harmed absent an injunction. However, Judge Hamilton did not grant the plaintiffs' request to enjoin the implementation of the Rule nationwide. Because the plaintiff states and counties did not establish "the necessity of such relief," the scope of the injunction was limited to California, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

The Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court Stay the Preliminary Injunctions
On December 5, 2019, a Ninth Circuit panel issued an order in a related case, City and County of San Francisco, granting the government's emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction in California, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Maine, and Pennsylvania. In the same order, the Ninth Circuit panel stayed a nationwide injunction that was issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington in State of Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Following the stay, on December 10, plaintiffs in this case filed notice that they would appeal the district court's October 11 decision denying their preliminary injunction. However, they withdrew their appeal shortly thereafter, and it was dismissed by the Ninth Circuit on February 4, 2020. 2020 WL 1170719.

On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court, in State of New York, issued a stay on all nationwide injunctions enjoining the defendants from implementing the Rule. 140 S.Ct. 599. Following this decision, the defendants indicated that the Rule would be implemented and enforced starting February 24, 2020.

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss
Back in the district court, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on April 22. In response, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on May 20. Defendants filed a new motion to dismissed the amended complaint on June 10.

On August 7, Judge Hamilton granted the motion to dismiss in part. He deferred ruling on the arbitrariness and capriciousness of the new public charge rule pending a Ninth Circuit ruling on the preliminary injunction. 477 F. Supp. 3d 951. He held that plaintiffs did not lack standing, and so denied that part of the motion to dismiss. However, he granted dismissal of plaintiffs' invalid appointment claims, holding (1) that President Trump had the authority to appoint Acting Secretary of DHS McAleenan; and (2) the Public Charge rule wasn't promulgated under Acting Secretary of USCIS Cuccinelli’s authority, making his appointment irrelevant to the complaint. Judge Hamilton also granted dismissal of, but with leave to amend, the equal protection claim. He held that the disparate impact was real but not dispositive; that none of the statements pointing to racial motivation were stated by anyone directly involved in promulgating the Rule; and that fast-tracking the Rule was not indicative of discriminatory intent.

Plaintiffs moved to reconsider the ruling on September 10. On November 25, Judge Hamilton granted the motion to reconsider and amended his August 7 order. 2020 WL 6940934. He reversed his dismissal of the claims against McAleenan's appointment, finding that factual investigation would be required to determine whether President Trump's tweet appointing McAleenan violated the order of succession outlined in Executive Order 13753.

Preliminary Injunction is Affirmed in the Ninth Circuit then Stayed
On December 2, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a preliminary injunction from the related case of City and County of San Francisco. 981 F.3d 742. However, Judge Hamilton stayed the order on December 17, as did the Ninth Circuit on January 20, 2021, pending the Supreme Court's disposition on petitions for certiorari from the Second and Seventh Circuits.

President Biden Issues Executive Order to Review the Public Charge Rule
On February 2, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order calling for DHS to review agency actions related to the implementation of the public charge rule.

On March 9, 2021, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the Rule had been implemented by DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. Pointing out that this court and others throughout the country had determined Mr. McAleenan was serving invalidly, the plaintiffs argued he therefore lacked authority to implement the rule. They also argued that defendants' attempts to ratify the rule through Chad Wolf instead suffered from similar issues of lacking authority.

The Rule is Officially Abandoned and Vacated
Also on March 9, 2021, DHS formally abandoned the rule. The government voluntarily dismissed its appeal to the Seventh Circuit, lifting the stay of the Northern District of Illinois' November 2, 2020 decision vacating the Public Charge Final Rule nationwide from (Cook County v. Wolf). That same day, at all parties' requests, the Supreme Court dismissed the pending petition for Cook County, as well as similar petitions for the Ninth (City and County of San Francisco v. USCIS) and Second (New York v. DHS) Circuits.

On March 10, eleven state attorneys general, led by Ken Paxton of Texas, moved to intervene as defendants in the Ninth Circuit. They filed similar motions in the Seventh and Fourth Circuits, and a day later on March 11, they filed an emergency application to the Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of the government and stay the judgment from Cook County.

On April 9, 2021 the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 to deny the motion to intervene without an opinion. 2021 WL 1310846. However, Judge Vandyke wrote a lengthy dissent, arguing that the Biden administration was now colluding with the plaintiffs in the Public Charge lawsuits, making their interests at odds with the interests of the states who were seeking to intervene. He explained that this case was clearly still worth pursuing, since it had sufficient merit to warrant Supreme Court review and the government was circumventing APA requirements. Moreover, even though the Rule had been vacated, there was still a chance the Supreme Court may reverse that decision, making this lawsuit not yet moot.

As of April 15, 2021, the Public Charge Final Rule has been abandoned and vacated nationwide. The parties are currently conferring on how this will impact litigation. The case is ongoing.

Aaron Gurley - 03/06/2020
Jack Kanarek - 04/15/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Food stamps
Medicaid
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
General
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Immigration/Border
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Acting Director
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Donald J. Trump
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Plaintiff Description Lead plaintiff, La Clinica de La Raza, is a Federally Qualified Health Center which provides health care to more than 86,000 patients annually, many of whom are immigrants and/or public benefit recipients. California Primary Care Association Asian Health Services Maternal and Child Health Access Farmworker Justice Council on American-Islamic Relations - California African Communities Together Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County Central American Resource Center Korean Resource Center
Indexed Lawyer Organizations National Immigration Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2019 - n/a
Filed 08/16/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-CA-0156 : City and County of San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Executive Order 14012: Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans
Federal Register
Date: Feb. 5, 2021
By: President Joseph Biden (Office of the President)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Implementation of Executive Order 13768, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
The Washington Post
Date: May 22, 2017
By: Jefferson Sessions (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Re: Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies (Final, 2/20/2017)
dhs.gov
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (United States Department of Homeland Security)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Re: Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest (Final, 2/20/2017)
dhs.gov
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (United States Department of Homeland Security)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 27, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
Citation: 82 Fed. Reg. Presidential Documents 8793 (Jan. 27, 2017)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 25, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
02/09/2021
4:19-cv-4980
IM-CA-0149-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
08/16/2019
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0149-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Md.
09/25/2019
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 59]
IM-CA-0149-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
10/11/2019
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 131]
IM-CA-0149-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
05/20/2020
First Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 161]
IM-CA-0149-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
08/07/2020
Order Granting in Part Denying in Part, and Deferring Ruling in Part on Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 177] (477 F.Supp.3d 951)
IM-CA-0149-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
11/25/2020
Order Granting Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 188] (2020 WL 7053313)
IM-CA-0149-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
11/25/2020
Amended Order Granting in Part, Denying in Part, and Deferring Rule in Part on Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 189] (2020 WL 6940934)
IM-CA-0149-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Hamilton, Phyllis Jean (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
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Hollander, Ellen Lipton (D. Md.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0149-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Broder, Tanya (California) show/hide docs
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Cho, Michelle (California) show/hide docs
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Dozier, Antionette D (California) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Ethan P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Soskin, Eric J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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