National Disability Rights Groups File Amicus Brief Supporting Legal Challenges to New "Public Charge" Rule

New Rule Violates Federal Law Prohibiting Disability-Based Discrimination

Eighteen national disability advocacy groups filed an amicus brief in support of litigation to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its new “public charge” rule.  Twenty-one states, led by California, Washington and New York have filed cases against the Trump Administration to block the new rule. In their brief, the advocates argue that the new public charge rule will prevent people with disabilities from entering this country or becoming legal residents in violation of federal disability law. 
 
Alison Barkoff, Director of Advocacy for the Center for Public Representation, stated that “almost 30 years ago, Congress removed the per se exclusion of immigrants with disabilities, recognizing the discrimination and prejudice these policies embodied.  In the following years, Congress has repeatedly legislated its commitment to include and integrate people with disabilities in all aspects of life.  This new rule flies in the face of that progress and federal law.”
 
“The new rule punishes immigrants who use Medicaid, even though Medicaid is the only way to access critical disability services,” said Claudia Center, Senior Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “Congress has explicitly recognized the importance of Medicaid in enabling people with disabilities to be productive, contributing members of society.  Studies show that access to Medicaid increases employment for people with disabilities.  That is the opposite of a public charge.”
 
“The public charge rule is blatant disability discrimination that recalls the darkest days of the eugenics era of the early Twentieth Century, when people with disabilities were excluded, segregated, and even sterilized,” said Samuel Bagenstos, University of Michigan law professor and former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.  “An individual’s disability counts against them in multiple factors considered in the new rule.  DHS even admits in the preamble to the rule that it will have an ‘outsized’ impact on people with disabilities.”

The new public charge rule goes into effect on October 15, 2019 unless the legal challenges underway stall or stop its implementation.