University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name State of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security IM-CA-0157
Docket / Court 19-cv-04975 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Civil Rights Challenges to Trump Immigration Enforcement Orders
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. In the fall of 2019, 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. As of March 2019, the government's appeals of these injunctions are pending in the Circuit Courts.

On August 16, 2019, the states of California, Maine, Oregon, and Pennsylvania along with the District of Columbia 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 the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief enjoining the defendants from implementing the Rule. 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 claimed that the Rule is unlawful because it was enacted contrary to the meaning of statutory terms in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the plaintiffs' statutory option to provide healthcare and nutrition benefits to the affected immigrants. The plaintiffs also asserted that the Rule is arbitrary and capricious because defendants "relied on factors that Congress did not intend, failed to consider important aspects of the problem the agency is addressing, and has offered no explanation for the Rule that is consistent with the evidence that is before the agency." Finally, the plaintiffs contended that the Rule violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment because it was "motivated by improper discriminatory intent and bias against non-White immigrants" and because defendants "adopted it to harm a politically unpopular group and advance unconstitutional animus."

The plaintiffs further contended that the Rule will cause plaintiffs to lose federal funds as immigrants disenroll from affected programs. They also asserted that the Rule, by causing confusion and fear in immigrant communities, will impose significant administrative costs and disrupt health and social services systems. Lastly, the plaintiffs proclaimed that the negative health outcomes that will result from the Rule will ultimately be paid for by the plaintiffs.

On August 26, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, seeking a nationwide injunction, or, alternatively, an injunction limited to the five plaintiff states and the District of Columbia, 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 "five-state injunction would compound confusion (and concomitant harms) for any immigrant who moves back and forth between Plaintiff States and other jurisdictions."

The court issued an order on August 27, 2019, relating the current case with City and County of San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (IM-CA-0156), another case challenging the validity of the Rule under the APA. The case was reassigned to District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton.

In their opposition to the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction filed on September 13, 2019, 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, in speculating that the Rule will result in economic harms, the plaintiffs have not met their burden in establishing standing. 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, on October 11, 2019, Judge Hamilton issued an order granting the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. 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. 19-17214).

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."

In light of the Ninth Circuit's order, Judge Hamilton terminated the defendants' district court motion to stay the injunction on December 6, 2019.

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

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.

Two days later the plaintiffs filed a motion in the district court seeking to compel the defendants to complete the administrative record (AR) and requesting leave to take discovery in support of their Equal Protection claims. The plaintiffs alleged that the AR provided by the defendants was inadequate, lacking key documents "critical to the Court’s evaluation of how the Rule departs from prior policy and practice."

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.

On April 1, Judge Hamilton granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion to complete the AR and compel discovery on their equal protection claim. Judge Hamilton concluded that plaintiffs had rebutted the presumption of a complete AR and are thus entitled to documents concerning "inter-agency communications providing comments to DHS" about the Rule. Moreover, Judge Hamilton found that plaintiffs' constitutional claim existed outside of their APA claim, and thus discovery on the claim was appropriate.

On April 22, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a plausible claim. Defendants asserted that the complaint should be dismissed in light of the Ninth Circuit's ruling that "the Rule falls well within the Executive Branch’s discretion to interpret and implement the public charge inadmissibility provision in the INA and is not arbitrary or capricious," because the plaintiffs lack jurisdiction, and because the complaint included "no well-pled allegation that DHS issued the Rule based on any improper discriminatory motive."

A hearing on defendants' motion to dismiss is scheduled for June 17, 2020 and defendants' appeal is pending resolution in the Ninth Circuit. The case is ongoing.

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
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Immigration/Border
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
United States Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description States of California, Maine, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.
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 08/16/2019
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
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  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 ]

Docket(s)
4:19-cv-4975 (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0157-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0157-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/16/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 120] (408 F.Supp.3d 1057) (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0157-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 39] (944 F.3d 773)
IM-CA-0157-0003.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-0157-0003
Hamilton, Phyllis Jean (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0002 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Ikuta, Sandra Segal (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0003
Owens, John Byron (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Becerra, Xavier (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Bonilla, Jennifer C (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Cisneros, Lisa Janine (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Cohen, Andrew Paul (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
DeFever, Jeanne Nicole (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
DeFilipp, Kristyn (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Dermody, Kelly M. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Doi, Kathryn Ellen (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Downer, William H. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Fischer, Michael J. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Fretz, Rebekah A. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Frey, Aaron M (Maine) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Frisina, Christopher J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Gonzales, Michelle Roberts (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Herman, Susan P. (Maine) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Kron, Michael (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Lehe, Katherine M (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Levin-Gesundheit, Michael (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
London, Andrew M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Lowe, Justin Jonathan (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Malouff, Marissa (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Mass, Julia Harumi (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Melton, Cherokee Dawn−Marie (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Nannery, Valerie M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Nash, Emily Joanne (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Nevitt, Alacoque Hinga (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Newman, Michael L. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Parmet, Wendy Ellen (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Racine, Karl A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Rich, Anna Margaret (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Rock, Jimmy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Rosenblum, Ellen F. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Shapiro, Joshua D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Springer, Christian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Thacher, Frances Cheston (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Thomson, Aimee D (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Velasco, Anita Garcia (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Verduzco, Brenda Ayon (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Zamora, R. Erandi (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Ethan P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Kolsky, Joshua (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Other Lawyers Assi, Christina Maria (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Bailey, Regan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Cadena, Christopher (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Chan, Denny W. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Escoriaza, Phillip A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Hirschhorn, Russell L. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Huseny, Sadik Harry (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Kean, Natalie Elise (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Krumplitsch, Susan Marie (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Kuwahara, Emily Tomoko (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Marotta, Sean (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000 | IM-CA-0157-9000
Masters, Owen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Ray, Sarah M. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Reider, Nicholas A. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Sutta, Austin Joan (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000
Waters, Edward T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0157-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -