University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name City and County of San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services IM-CA-0156
Docket / Court 4:19-cv-04717 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
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 countries 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.

On August 13, 2019, the City and County of San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara filed this suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued 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 to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the Rule from being enforced. The case was initially assigned to Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.

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 final 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.” Thus, an immigrant who uses non-cash benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid, 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 rule was initially set to be implemented on October 15, 2019.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Rule is unlawful because it "conflicts with the language and intent of the statutory provision it purports to interpret [the Immigration and Nationality Act], the broader congressional framework of U.S. immigration law, and federal statutes governing the public benefits enumerated in the Final Rule." The plaintiffs also claimed that the Rule is arbitrary and capricious, failing to meet basic procedural requirements of administrative rulemaking and explain why the Rule, which has been relied upon by local communities and immigrants for years, has been changed. The plaintiffs further contended that that Rule would be harmful; that it would coerce immigrants and their family members to disenroll from public benefits, undermine the plaintiffs' health and safety-net systems, and inflict significant financial harm on the plaintiffs.

After the plaintiffs declined to proceed before a magistrate judge, the case was randomly assigned to District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton on August 21, 2019.

On August 21, 2019, Judge Hamilton issued an order relating this case with State of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (IM-CA-0157).

On August 28, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, seeking a nationwide injunction enjoining the defendants from implementing and enforcing the Rule. The plaintiffs argued that a preliminary injunction was appropriate because of their likely success on the merits and that absent an injunction, the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm. The plaintiffs also asserted that a nationwide injunction was necessary, as a "geographically limited injunction is likely to generate more confusion without significantly preventing disenrollment" and would not account for legal residents moving throughout the United States.

Judge Hamilton issued an order relating another case, La Clinica De La Raza v. Trump, to this case, on August 30, 2019 (IM-CA-0149).

On September 13, 2019, the defendants filed an opposition to the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, arguing 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 aliens governed by the Rule," they cannot meet jurisdictional requirements. Furthermore, the defendants contended that the Rule is 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."

Following a hearing on October 2, 2019, Judge Hamilton issued an order granting the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction on October 11, 2019. 408 F.Supp.3d 1057. Judge Hamilton concluded that a preliminary injunction was appropriate because the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits 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 plaintiffs 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 defendants filed a motion for stay of injunction pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit on October 25, 2019. Defendants argued that they are likely to succeed on appeal because the plaintiffs lacked standing and did not fall within the zone of interests of the relevant statute. Defendants also contended that, because they would be "forced to grant lawful permanent residence (“LPR”) status to aliens likely to become public charges at any time under the Rule," they would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a stay as their interest in "ensuring that 'aliens be self-reliant'" would be affected.

On October 30, 2019, the defendants filed an appeal of the order for preliminary injunction to the Ninth Circuit. The appeal was docketed the next day (Docket No. 19-17213).

In the Ninth Circuit, on November 15, 2019, the defendants filed an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal. The defendants' arguments before the Ninth Circuit mirrored the arguments they put forth in their motion to stay in the district court.

On December 5, 2019, a Ninth Circuit panel (Circuit Judges Jay Bybee, Sandra Ikuta, and John Owens) issued an order and opinion granting the defendants' emergency motion to stay the district court's injunction. 944 F.3d 773. The panel also granted a stay of a nationwide injunction enjoining the defendants from implementing the Rule that was issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (State of Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security). The panel first concluded that the plaintiffs had standing and that the motion was not moot, despite nationwide injunctions put in place by district courts in Maryland and New York. Next, the panel found that the defendants demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their claims that the Rule's definition of public charge was consistent with the relevant statutes and not arbitrary or capricious. Finally, the panel determined that the defendants had adequately explained the reasons for the Rule, that they would suffer irreparable harm absent a stay, and that, despite potential harms to the plaintiffs, these factors weighed in favor of granting a stay.

Judge Bybee concurred, and wrote a separate opinion to note that "no one should mistake the court’s judgments for its policy preferences" and that it was time for Congress to weigh in on recent immigration debates instead of leaving them for the courts to decide.

Judge Owens concurred with the majority's jurisdiction analysis but would have denied the defendants' motions to stay, in light of: "(1) government’s heavy burden due to the standard of review, (2) opaqueness of the legal questions before the court, (3) lack of irreparable harm to the government at this early stage, (4) likelihood of substantial injury to the plaintiffs, and (5) equities involved."

On December 19, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration of the Ninth Circuit's order granting stay of the preliminary injunction.

In light of the Ninth Circuit's order granting stay and a Second Circuit Decision in State of New York v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security denying a motion to stay a nationwide injunction, on January 8, 2020, the defendants filed a motion in the district court for stay pending appeal. Judge Hamilton granted this motion on January 10, 2020.

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.

On February 18, 2020, the Ninth Circuit panel voted to deny the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration. Judge Bybee and Judge Ikuta voted to deny the motion and Judge Owens voted to grant the motion.

As of May 30, 2020, the district court's injunction is stayed pending resolution of the defendants' appeal in the Ninth Circuit.

Aaron Gurley - 03/08/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Benefit Source
Food stamps
Medicaid
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
General
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Immigration/Border
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Plaintiff Description Government municipalities of City and County of San Francisco and County of Santa Clara.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2019 - n/a
Filed 08/13/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-CA-0157 : State of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0149 : La Clinica de la Raza v. Trump (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
4:19-cv-04717 (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0156-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0156-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/13/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 115] (408 F.Supp.3d 1047) (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0156-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 27] (944 F.3d 773)
IM-CA-0156-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/05/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bybee, Jay S. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0003
Hamilton, Phyllis Jean (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0002 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Ikuta, Sandra Segal (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0003
Owens, John Byron (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Edwards, Hannah Luke (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Eisenberg, Sara J. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Flynn, Ronald P. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Goldberg, Matthew David (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Hansen, Greta Suzanne (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001
Herrera, Dennis J. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Mere, Yvonne Rosil (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Rajendra, Raphael N (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Smith, Jesse C. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001
Spiegel, Julia Blau (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Trice, Laura Susan (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Williams, James Robyzad (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-0001 | IM-CA-0156-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Ethan P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Kolsky, Joshua (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Other Lawyers Assi, Christina Maria (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Bailey, Regan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Chan, Denny W. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Cohen, Andrew Paul (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
DeFilipp, Kristyn (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Dermody, Kelly M. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Doi, Kathryn Ellen (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Escoriaza, Phillip A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Frisina, Christopher J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Goldstein, Danielle L (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Gonzales, Michelle Roberts (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Hirschhorn, Russell L. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Huseny, Sadik Harry (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Kean, Natalie Elise (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Krumplitsch, Susan Marie (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Levin-Gesundheit, Michael (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
London, Andrew M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Lowe, Justin Jonathan (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Marotta, Sean (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Masters, Owen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Nash, Emily Joanne (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Parmet, Wendy Ellen (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Springer, Christian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Thacher, Frances Cheston (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000
Waters, Edward T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0156-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -