Attorney General TJ Donovan said Vermont has joined a lawsuit against the Trump administration over new rules blocking green cards for many immigrants who use public assistance, including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.
In a press release, Donovan said the new rules “will target” the poor and disabled in order to limit the number of legal immigrants entering the US.
“Public benefits are a hand-up, not a handout,” Donovan said. “We are not going to penalize people who come to this country and need a helping hand.”
The rules are set to take effect in October. They expand “public charge” policies by broadening the range of programs that can disqualify immigrants from legal status if they are deemed to be a burden to the U.S.
They would allow Department of Homeland Security to consider if an individual has received public assistance, or is likely to need it, when seeking to enter the US or apply for a green card.
More than 15 other states have already sued to challenge the new rule, including New York, Connecticut, California, Washington state and Pennsylvania.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the new rules fly in the face of American values and 100 years of case law.
“Generations of citizens landed on the welcoming shores of Ellis Island with nothing more than a dream in their pockets,” she said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The Trump Administration’s thinly veiled efforts to only allow those who meet their narrow ethnic, racial and economic criteria to enter our nation is a clear violation of our laws and our values.”
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said earlier this month that the rule change will ensure those who come to the country don’t become a burden, though they pay taxes.
“We want to see people coming to this country who are self-sufficient,” Cuccinelli said. “That’s a core principle of the American dream. It’s deeply embedded in our history, and particularly our history related to legal immigration.”
This story contains information from the Associated Press.