Attorney General

AG James Wins Stay In ‘Public Charge’ Rule Taking Effect

The state’s legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s administration’s plan to deny green cards to immigrants who receive welfare benefits has won a delay in the rule change from taking effect.

The move would deny green cards to immigrants who receive forms of public assistance, including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.

Attorney General Letitia James’s office has sued over the proposal, which was set to take effect in October. James last month filed a motion in federal court from delaying the implementation of the plan.

“Today marks an important first step on the path to fairness and humanity in our immigration system, thanks to Attorney General James,” said Steven Choi, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“The Trump administration thought they could tell us who should and should not be a New Yorker. Today, we sent the President a clear message: New York belongs to everyone—whether you are rich or poor, whether you are white or a person of color. This is our New York and we will continue to fight to protect New York’s immigrant families from going hungry, and will make sure that they can access all the life-giving programs they need to ensure their families are strong.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement called the development “an important win for our country.”

“The discriminatory rule was clearly crafted to target low-income immigrants of color and punish them for being poor by denying them entry to our country,” he said.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and it is repugnant to our values as Americans to turn away those who wish to come to our country in search of a better life for their families. In New York, we will continue to fight this administration’s assault on our immigrant communities at every turn, and we will remain a beacon of hope and acceptance for all.”

AG’s Office Finds No Criminal Culpability In Trooper Shooting

The death of a 41-year-old Hudson Valley man was not the result of criminal culpability on the part of a state trooper, Attorney General Letitia James’s office said in a statement released Tuesday.

James’s office released a 65-page report on the September 2018 incident that resulted in the death of Jaime Lopez-Cabrera during an interaction with State Police.

A video recording shows Lopez-Cabrera walking toward Trooper Kevin Wolensky and did not put his hands up. Wolensky fired two shots, striking Lopez-Cabrera.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Lopez-Cabrera on the loss of their loved one,” James said.

“The Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is committed to providing the public with an exhaustive and transparent inquiry into any death over which it has jurisdiction. The Unit conducted a comprehensive investigation regarding the death of Mr. Lopez-Cabrera and encourages local and state law enforcement agencies to implement the recommendations set forth in the report.”

New York Wins Ruling In EPA Clean Air Lawsuit

A multi-state lawsuit backed by New York challenging President Donald Trump’s administration’s effort to change ozone emissions standards has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday announced.

“New Yorkers have a right to clean, healthy air. But the fact is, over two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air due to smog pollution,” she said. “We will continue our battle to compel the Trump Administration to follow the law in our effort to fight this public health hazard and to uphold New Yorkers’ legal right to clean, healthy air.”

The suit addressed the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision that bards upwind ozone pollution interfering with the ability of downwind states to meet an ozone standard of 75 parts per billion.

The court sided with the plaintiffs in the case, agreeing the change in the regulation that lowered the standard to be not enough.

The suit includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the city of New York.

James, AGs, Says Trump Admin Used Faulty Legal Argument In Revoking DACA

A brief filed Monday by Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 17 attorneys general argues President Donald Trump’s administration used faulty legal reasoning when it revoked the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The program, known as DACA, allowed people living in the United States illegally, but brought to the country as children, to apply for deferred legal action. President Trump’s administration has moved to end the DACA program, which is being challenged by James in federal court. In the briefing, James’s office argues that ending the program would harm New York residents, institutions and the economy.

“Our country is one of immigrants, our culture made richer by their contributions, and our economy made more prosperous because of their work,” James said in a statement.

“Our government made a promise to DREAMers that they would be able to live their lives free from the fear of sudden, arbitrary deportation, yet the Trump Administration has spent the past two years threatening, bullying, and putting their lives and future at great risk. We will not allow them to continue this cruel crusade against these invaluable members of our society.”

The legal challenge to ending DACA has been under way for the last two years. An end to the DACA program was put on hold while the case is being heard and it is expected to be argued at the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York AG, Brooklyn DA Sue Over ICE Courthouse Arrests

Two separate lawsuits against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency meant to halt courthouse arrests of immigrants were announced Wednesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

The second suit is backed by The Legal Aid Society and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. Both were filed in federal court.

“The administration of justice and public safety are among the most important functions of the state, and I will be relentless in their defense,” James said. “When ICE targets witnesses and victims for arrests, it deters noncitizens and immigrants from assisting in state and local law enforcement efforts or protecting their own rights in court. This is a disastrous and dangerous break from previous policy and that’s why we are fighting to force them to end this practice.”

The legal challenges are meant to challenge the ability of ICE to make arrests in courthouses without a judicial warrant or court order in New York.

In one suit, filed by the attorney general and DA offices, officials assert the ICE arrests impede administration of justice in courthouses and negatively affect public safety. The second suit is seeking a permanent injunction on the halt of ICE’s courthouse enforcement on behalf of a domestic violence survivor who needed to appear in court for an order of protection and is not a citizen. The plaintiff feared the risk of an ICE arrest.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career as a prosecutor, it’s that law enforcement can’t keep people safe without the participation of the communities we serve,” Gonzalez said.

“Over the past two years, numerous immigrant victims and witnesses have refused to come forward and assist in our prosecutions out of fear that they’ll be arrested in court by immigration agents, forcing my office to dismiss or reduce serious criminal cases.”

James Urges Passage Of Cannabis Banking Bill

Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 21 attorneys general from around the country backed a bill that would allow cannabis-related businesses operating legally to access the banking system.

Legal cannabis operations, including medical marijuana companies in New York, operate as cash businesses. The need to do so is reflective of marijuana remaining illegal on the federal level.

Multiple states have either medical cannabis or adult-use cannabis programs in place.

“As the marketplace for legal cannabis-related business evolves, federal regulations governing the banking system must keep pace,” James said in a statement.

“It’s not only commonsense to fold a growing multi-billion-dollar industry under the regulated banking sector, but it’s also a matter of public safety. With such widespread, bipartisan support, there is no reason this bill shouldn’t pass without delay.”

Allowing cannabis companies to make bank transactions would provide an added layer of oversight and reduce the risk of both violent and white-collar crime, James said.

James Issues Cease And Desist Orders To Gun Component Websites

Cease and desist orders were issued by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office to 16 websites that manufacture and sell firearms or firearm components for selling nearly complete assault-style firearms in the state.

Assault-style rifles are banned in New York, but the websites have been providing the ability to get around the ban, specifically advertising as a way of evading law enforcement, Jame’s office said.

“There is only one purpose for the products that these companies are selling — to manufacture illegal and deadly assault weapons,” James said in a statement.

“The proliferation of these types of weapons has not only caused indescribable suffering across the country, but gravely endanger every New Yorker. We must make sure that these illegal and untraceable guns are not built in New York.”

The cease and desist orders were issued as lawmakers have introduced new legislation meant to ban so-called “ghost guns” in New York that are untraceable. Local-level law enforcement officials, including Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, have also issued warnings about ghost guns.

James Critical Of Reported Opioid Settlement

Attorney General Letitia James in a statement Wednesday criticized the reported settlement reached with thousands of governments around the country, Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family.

The details of the settlement are yet to be released, but James indicated a settlement would not hold the pharmaceutical firm to account for the opioid addiction crisis.

“While our country continues to recover from the carnage left by the Sacklers’ greed, this family is now attempting to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis,” she said. “A deal that doesn’t account for the depth of pain and destruction caused by Purdue and the Sacklers is an insult, plain and simple. As attorney general, I will continue to seek justice for victims and fight to hold bad actors accountable, no matter how powerful they may be.”

James and local governments in New York are pursuing a case against opioid makers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday a separate lawsuit filed by the Department of Financial Services, seeking to recoup $2 billion in increased insurance costs.

James Files Motion To Block ‘Public Charge’ Rule

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday her office had filed a motion to block President Donald Trump’s administration from a rule change that would deny green cards and visas to immigrants who are seeking social services and other welfare programs.

The Trump administration signaled last month it would move ahead with the “public charge” rule change, which federal officials said was meant to boost self-sufficiency. Immigration advocates contend the move would deny vital services like health care.

“We will not allow Trump Administration to enact rules that violate the laws and the values of this country,” James said.

“If enforced, the public charge rule will not only sow fear and chaos into the lives of immigrants working to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, but will have an adverse impact on the heath and well being of New Yorkers, and individuals across this country. This rule is dangerous, disruptive, and should not be permitted to take effect.”

The rule change is due to take effect on Oct. 15.

States Investigate Google Over Anti-Trust Concerns

Fifty state attorneys general are investigating Google for potential anti-trust violations, New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed on Monday in a statement.

“Google’s control over nearly every aspect of our lives has placed the company at the center of our digital economy. But it doesn’t take a search engine to understand that unchecked corporate power shouldn’t eclipse consumers’ rights,” James said.

“That is why New York has joined this bipartisan investigation of Google to determine whether the company has achieved or maintained its dominance through anticompetitive conduct. As with the Facebook investigation we are leading, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal in the Google investigation to ensure the truth is exposed.”

The investigation comes as a separate probe has been launched by attorneys general, led by James’s office, reviewing the business practices of Facebook.