SEATTLE — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is helping to lead a lawsuit of 13 states contesting the federal government’s new rule making it harder for legal immigrants to get green cards if they’ve used an array of public benefits, including Medicaid, subsidized housing and food stamps.

The lawsuit, announced Wednesday and co-led by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, is the first to be filed by states and the second overall after the government released the controversial rule Monday. The other attorneys general filing suit are from Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island.

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed a suit Tuesday.

“The Trump Administration’s message is clear: if you’re wealthy you’re welcome, if you’re poor, you’re not,” Ferguson said in a statement.

The rule is part of the Trump administration’s plan to reshape legal immigration by bringing in people with skills and excluding people who are likely to become a so-called “public charge.”

Critics charge the rule will have a widespread chilling effect that will lead people to forgo even benefits that won’t count against them. Public Health — Seattle & King County estimates more than 200,000 could be affected.

The attorney general’s 169-page complaint charges that the rule illegally expands a previous public charge rule that was narrow in scope. “The rule is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion because — among other reasons — it reverses a decades-old, consistent policy without reasoned analysis,” the complaint said.


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