City and County of San Francisco v. USCIS, No. 19-17213 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 2019, DHS issued a rule that defines the term "public charge" to include those who are likely to participate, even for a limited period of time, in non-cash federal government assistance programs. At issue are preliminary injunctions issued by two district courts enjoining DHS's rule. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction of the District Court for the Northern District of California covering the territory of the plaintiffs. The panel affirmed in part and vacated in part the preliminary injunction of the District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, vacating the portion of the injunction that made it applicable nationwide.
After determining that plaintiffs have Article III standing and that the interest of plaintiffs in preserving immigrants' access to supplemental benefits is within the zone of interests protected by the "public charge" statute, the panel concluded that plaintiffs have demonstrated a high likelihood of success in showing that the Rule is inconsistent with any reasonable interpretation of the statutory public charge bar and therefore is contrary to law. The panel also concluded that the Rule's promulgation was arbitrary and capricious as well as contrary to law within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The panel explained that DHS adopted the Rule, reversing prior, longstanding public policy, without adequately taking into account its potential adverse effects on the public fisc and the public welfare. Furthermore, the remaining injunction factors favor plaintiffs where plaintiffs have established that they likely are bearing and will continue to bear heavy financial costs because of withdrawal of immigrants from federal assistance programs and consequent dependence on state and local programs, and there was no error in finding that the balance of equities and public interest support an injunction.
The panel vacated the portion of the Eastern District's injunction making it applicable nationwide, explaining that a nationwide injunction was not appropriate in this case because the impact of the Rule would fall upon all districts at the same time, and the same issues regarding its validity have been and are being litigated in multiple federal district and circuit courts. Finally, because the panel held that the Rule violates the APA as contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious, it similarly did not address the Rehabilitation Act.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on December 5, 2019.