City & Cnty. of S.F. v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., Case No. 19-cv-04717-PJH

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
Writing for the CourtPHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge
PartiesCITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., Plaintiffs, v. U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, et al., Defendants. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants. LA CLINICA DE LA RAZA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date11 October 2019
Docket NumberCase No. 19-cv-04717-PJH,Case No. 19-cv-04975-PJH,Case No. 19-cv-04980-PJH

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, et al., Defendants.


STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants.


LA CLINICA DE LA RAZA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants.

Case No. 19-cv-04717-PJH
Case No. 19-cv-04975-PJH
Case No. 19-cv-04980-PJH

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

October 11, 2019


Related Cases

PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

This order concerns three motions for a preliminary injunction filed in three related actions. Each of the plaintiffs in those actions moved for preliminary injunctive relief. The motions came on for hearing before this court on October 2, 2019.

Plaintiff the City and County of San Francisco ("San Francisco") appeared through

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its counsel, Matthew Goldberg, Sara Eisenberg, and Yvonne Mere. Plaintiff the County of Santa Clara ("Santa Clara" and together with San Francisco, the "Counties") appeared through its counsel, Ravi Rajendra, Laura Trice, and Luke Edwards. Plaintiffs the State of California, District of Columbia, State of Maine, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and State of Oregon (together, including D.C., the "States") appeared through their counsel, Anna Rich, Lisa Cisneros, and Brenda Ayon Verduzco. Plaintiffs La Clinica De La Raza and California Primary Care Association (the two together are the "Healthcare Organizations"), Maternal and Child Health Access, Farmworker Justice, Council on American Islamic Relations-California, African Communities Together, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, Central American Resource Center, and Korean Resource Center (the "Legal Organizations") (the Legal Organizations and the Healthcare Organizations together are the "Organizations") appeared through their counsel, Alvaro Huerta, Nicholas Espiritu, Joanna Cuevas Ingram, Kevin Herrera, Tanya Broder, Max Wolsen, and Mayra Joachin.

Defendants U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), Kevin McAleenen as Acting Secretary of DHS, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli as Acting Director of USCIS, and Donald J. Trump, as President of the United States appeared through their counsel, Ethan Davis, Eric Soskin, and Kuntal Cholera.

Additionally, papers submitted by numerous amici curiae were before the court. Prior to the hearing, the court granted motions to file amicus briefs on behalf of the following non-parties, all of which the court considered in its analysis: American Public Health Association, et al.; Asian Americans Advancing Justice, et al.; City of Los Angeles, et al.; Justice in Aging, et al.; and Members of Congress. A number of other requests to file amici briefs were denied due to the court's insufficient time to consider them on this particular motion, given the already-voluminous filings from the parties, the briefing schedule, and the time-sensitive nature of plaintiffs' request for preliminary relief.

Having read the papers filed by the parties and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the court hereby

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GRANTS CERTAIN PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS AND ISSUES A PRELIMINARILY INJUNCTION, the scope of which is discussed below, for the following reasons.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In 1883, Emma Lazarus penned the now-famous sonnet, The New Colossus. Later affixed to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the poem has been incorporated into the national consciousness as a representation of the country's promise to would-be immigrants:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

But whether one would prefer to see America's borders opened wide and welcoming, or closed because the nation is full, laws—not poetry—govern who may enter. And the year before Lazarus wrote The New Colossus, Congress had enacted its first comprehensive immigration law, barring entry to "any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge," among others. An Act to Regulate Immigration, 22 Stat. 214, Chap. 376 § 2. (1882). Although various iterations of similar laws have since come and gone (the operative statute no longer refers to "lunatics" or "idiots"), since the very first immigration law in 1882, this country has consistently excluded those who are likely to become a "public charge."

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Although Congress has never authored an explicit definition of the term, courts and the executive branch have been considering its meaning as used in the statute for over one hundred and twenty years. As interpretations from those two branches accreted toward a consistent understanding, Congress repeatedly enacted statutes adopting the identical phrase.

In 1999, the executive branch reviewed its historical application of the term and issued formal guidance to executive employees, explaining that the public charge determination has historically, and should continue to, focus on whether an individual is primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.

In 2018, DHS published a new rule (scheduled to take effect October 15, 2019) that proposed to dramatically expand the definition of "public charge." Rather than include only those who primarily depend on the government for subsistence, DHS now proposes for the first time to categorize as a public charge every person who receives 12 months of public benefits (including many in-kind benefits, like Medicaid and SNAP/Food Stamps) over any 36-month period, regardless of how valuable those benefits are, or how much they cost the government to provide (receiving two types of benefits in one month would count as receiving benefits for two months).

Today, the court is presented with a challenge to DHS's new definition. The plaintiffs seek to prevent defendants from implementing it before this court can consider this case on the merits. The plaintiffs argue that the new definition will lead to widespread disenrollment1 from public benefits by those who fear being labeled a public charge (and by those confused that they may be swept up in the rule), which will cause plaintiffs to lose a substantial amount funding (for example, the federal government heavily subsidizes state expenses for those enrolled in Medicaid).

The court finds that the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits, for numerous

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reasons. DHS's new definition of "public charge" is likely to be outside the bounds of a reasonable interpretation of the statute. Moreover, plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their entirely independent arguments that defendants acted arbitrarily and capriciously during the legally-required process to implement the changes they propose. Because plaintiffs are likely to prevail and will be irreparably harmed if defendants are permitted to implement the rule as planned on October 15, this court will enjoin implementation of the rule in the plaintiff states until this case is resolved on the merits, as discussed in more detail below.

BACKGROUND

In each of the actions before the court, the plaintiffs challenge and seek to preliminarily enjoin implementation of a proposed rule entitled "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds," proposed by DHS and published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2019. See Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, 84 Fed. Reg. 41,292 (August 14, 2019) ("the Rule"). The Rule is scheduled to take effect nationwide on October 15, 2019.

A. The Three Actions

In City and County of San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Case No. 19-cv-04717-PJH, San Francisco and Santa Clara (together, the "Counties") filed a complaint naming as defendants USCIS; DHS; McAleenen as Acting Secretary of DHS; and Cuccinelli as Acting Director of USCIS. The complaint asserts two causes of action under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"): (1) Violation of APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)—Not in Accordance with Law; and (2) Violation of APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)—Arbitrary, Capricious, and Abuse of Discretion. The Counties filed the present motion for preliminary injunction on August 28, 2019.

In State of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Case No. 19-cv-04975-PJH, the States filed a complaint naming the same defendants as the Counties: USCIS; DHS; McAleenen as Acting Secretary of DHS; and Cuccinelli as Acting Director of USCIS. The complaint asserts six causes of action: (1) Violation of APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706—Contrary to Law, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Illegal Immigration

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Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act; (2) Violation of APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706—Contrary to Law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, codified at 29 U.S.C. § 794 (the "Rehabilitation Act"); (3) Violation of APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706—Contrary to Law, State Healthcare Discretion; (4) Violation of APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706—Arbitrary and Capricious; (5) Violation of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process clause requiring Equal Protection based on race; (6) Violation of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process clause, based on a violation of Equal Protection principles based on unconstitutional animus. The States filed the present motion for preliminary injunction on August 26, 2019. On August 27, 2019, this court ordered the action brought by the States related to the action brought by the Counties.

In La Clinica De La Raza v. Trump, Case No. 19-cv-04980-PJH, the Organizations filed a...

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