Supreme Court dismisses measure for maintaining “public charge” in immigration


(CNN) — The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by a group of Republican-led states to intervene in a case challenging the Trump-era “public charge” immigration policy that the Biden administration stopped implementing.

The case did not focus on the legality of the rule. Rather, he assessed whether the Biden administration followed proper procedures to overturn the policy and to dismiss pending legal challenges.

The Supreme Court decision represents a blow to the conservative states that asked the high court to intervene.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote an opinion that was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Roberts expressed his frustration with the Biden administration for circumventing certain procedures to reverse Trump’s policy. In that sense, he pointed out that the maneuvers raised “a series of important questions” for future disputes.

However, he said “it became clear that this mess could get in the way of getting to the point” in the case. And so he agreed that the Republican appeal should be dismissed.

What is the “public charge” rule?

In August 2019, the then Trump administration issued a regulation, dubbed “public charge,” that made it more difficult for immigrants who relied on government assistance — in programs like Medicaid, subsidized housing, and food stamps–– obtain legal status. The rule that was implemented at the time applied to people seeking to arrive or remain in the United States. Specifically, those who were in the process of obtaining a legal permanent status, also known as a residence card, green card or ‘green card’.

The rule meant that many green card and visa applicants could be turned away if they had low incomes or little education because they would be considered more likely to need government assistance in the future.

Trump’s measure at the time reinstated the “public charge” provision, which dates back to at least the Immigration Act of 1882. At the time, federal lawmakers wanted to make sure immigrants could take care of themselves and not end up being a public charge. But under regulations that were established in 1996 and were in place before the change in 2019, the term public charge defined someone who is “primarily dependent” on government assistance, meaning provided more than the half of your income.

And only cash benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income from Social Security, counted in this category. While Trump’s new rule broadened the definition of who is expected to be dependent on the government by including more benefit programs.

Biden’s change on immigration

Last February, the Biden administration began changing policy again by considering what public benefits would indicate an individual is heavily dependent on the federal government and excluding benefits, such as food assistance programs and housing benefits, that shouldn’t. be used against an individual who is otherwise dependent on their own resources.

“The 2019 public charge rule was not consistent with our nation’s values,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in February. “Under this proposed rule, we will return to the historical understanding of the term ‘public charge.’ And individuals will not be penalized for choosing to access health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them.”



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