On November 2, 2020, Sidley won a major summary judgment ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of its client, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, vacating the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule. The public charge rule allows U.S. officials to deny green cards to immigrants who might need even minimal amounts of public assistance. Because of the public policy implications of the ruling as well as the proximity to the election, this case has received intense media coverage since the ruling was announced, including from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other national publications.
The public charge rule was announced in September 2018 and has been one of the Trump administration’s most controversial and high-profile policy directives. The intent of the policy was to tie the receipt of even de minimis public benefits by non-citizens to their ability to obtain green cards. The practical impact of the rule is to prevent immigrants from using public benefits to which they are entitled, including, among other things, health coverage and nutritional assistance for immigrant children. According to a recent study by Health Affairs cited in The New York Times, an estimated 260,000 children nationwide have been removed by their parents from nutrition and healthcare programs for fear of jeopardizing their ability to adjust their immigration status in the future. The rule has been the subject of multiple lawsuits and rulings, including by the United States Supreme Court.
The Sidley team was led by Chicago partners Dave Gordon and Tacy Flint, working with Legal Council for Health Justice, the Shriver Center, and the National Housing Law Project on behalf of ICIRR, as well as with co-plaintiff Cook County, represented by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Goldberg Kohn. The Sidley team also included Dallas partners Yvette Ostolaza and Rob Velevis, and Chicago associates Marlow Svatek, Andy Rodheim, and William Cowles.