Defending the Right to Basic Benefits
Sidley secured a victory on behalf of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) pro bono in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on June 10, 2020. ICIRR, along with Cook County, had sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for its new interpretation of the “public charge” rule — narrowly construing a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act to prevent immigrants who obtain even a de minimis amount of public assistance from entering the United States or adjusting their immigration status. Affirming the preliminary injunction obtained from the Northern District of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit held that the injunction was appropriate both because DHS’s public charge rule is an unreasonable interpretation of the statute and, separately, because it is arbitrary and capricious. The Sidley team argued the case before the Seventh Circuit in February. This victory comes on the heels of another victory in the district court two weeks prior, in which the court ruled that ICIRR has plausibly alleged that the public charge rule violates the Equal Protection Clause. Notably, this is the first district court in the country to allow equal protection claims against DHS based on the rule to survive a motion to dismiss, and also the first court to hold that the public charge rule will be subject to strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. These victories are the result of an enormous effort by an outstanding Sidley team, as well as a team outside of Sidley, including lawyers at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Legal Council for Health Justice, Cook County and Goldberg Kohn.
Political Asylum and Immigrants’ Rights Project / Defending the Right to Basic Benefits