A New York federal appeals court on Wednesday (January 8) ruled to maintain a temporary block on implementing the Trump administration’s change to the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds immigration policy, also known as the public charge rule. According to The Associated Press, the ruling was handed down by a three-judge panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As Colorlines previously reported, the public charge rule “punishes immigrants who have applied for government services including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and housing assistance by denying them a green card or a path to American citizenship.” The rule was scheduled to take effect on October 15 of last year, but The AP reports a temporary national injunction was issued by New York and several other district courts after nearly a dozen lawsuits were filed against the policy. 

As Colorlines wrote previously:

The policy currently states that immigrants who want to become permanent residents have to first prove they won’t become “public charges,” or burdens to the United States…. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—an agency within the Department of Homeland Security—seeks to broaden the policy by expanding the definition of a public charge:

This policy also sets a “vast array of new criteria to assess whether an individual is ‘likely’ to someday become a public charge,” according to The Washington Post. For example, green card applicants dealing with medical conditions or financial challenges that would prevent them from covering “any reasonably foreseeable medical costs,” could find themselves ineligible for approval. Immigrants are at the mercy of this new rule if they’ve been approved for any public benefit, even if they never received or made use of the benefit. Other signs that a person could “likely” become a “public charge” include low credit scores, no private health insurance, no college degree and limited English language skills.

Judges in the Second Circuit questioned the government’s attorney on the timing of the policy, The AP reports. They wanted to understand why the “injunction needed to be lifted at this point when the lawsuit itself would be heard by a judge in coming months.”

According to The AP, an estimated 544,000 people apply for green cards each year. Of those applicants, 382,000 would potentially be affected by the updated public charge rule.