July 29 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop implementing a rule making it more difficult for low-income immigrants to get green cards to enter the country.
Judge George Daniels of the U.S. District Court blocked the so-called public charge rule on Wednesday after it went into effect in February following a decision by the Supreme Court to set aside court orders preventing its implementation.
"Defendants' interest in effectuating the Rule fails to measure up to the gravity of this global pandemic that continues to threaten the lives and economic well-being of America's residents," Daniels wrote. "No person should hesitate to seek medical care, nor should they endure punishment or penalty if they seek temporary financial aid as a result of the pandemic's impact."
President Donald Trump's administration expanded the term in August, allowing officials to deny visas and green cards to individuals who could be considered an economic burden on society for their reliance on public assistance benefits including food stamps, Medicaid and government-subsidized housing. Officials could also look at other factors, such as financial resources, health and education, in determining eligibility for green cards.
In January, the Supreme Court lifted a lower court injunction against the rule, which faced challenges including one from the State of New York who argued the expansion will make it harder for poor immigrants, the disabled and people of color to enter the country.
Daniels on Wednesday said the COVID-19 pandemic provided more urgency to block the policy.
"What were previously theoretical harms have proven to be true. We no longer need to imagine the worst-case scenario; we are experiencing its dramatic effects in real time," he wrote.