On March 9, 2021, the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule was effectively put to an end when the Biden administration stopped defending the rule in courts around the country. In addition to dismissing its appeals of lower courts’ preliminary injunctions in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Biden administration dismissed its Seventh Circuit appeal of a major ruling from November 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that Sidley won for its client, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). The Northern District of Illinois is the only court in the country to have issued a judgment on the merits of the public charge rule, and the district court’s ruling vacated the public charge rule nationwide. That ruling is now final and in effect.
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. The rule had been the subject of multiple lawsuits and rulings, including by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Sidley team that obtained the November 2020 ruling 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, Chicago associates Marlow Svatek and Andy Rodheim, and Chicago project assistant Andy Watkins.