The Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to enforce its “public charge” immigration restriction, removing two preliminary injunctions previously issued by federal judges.
The order, which was approved Monday, divided the conservatives and liberals with a split vote of 5-4.
The issue at hand is that the administration’s rule in August restricted immigrants entering the United States if they were deemed by the government that they would most likely rely on public housing, health care, and other assistance. The policy had been blocked by lower federal courts from being implemented while the issue is being still being litigated.
The Justice Department asked the high court to intervene after it lost in the lower court. They did, which now allows temporary enforcement until the issue is resolved. The suit was brought about by immigrant rights groups and the states of Connecticut, Vermont, and New York, as well as New York City.
The current liberal justices surely would have blocked the enforcement of the regulation.
Although a “public charge” inadmissibility standard has been part of U.S. immigration law for quite some time, it was not formally defined. In August, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defined a “public charge” as an immigrant who received one or more designated benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period.
“The principle driving it is an old American value, and that’s self-sufficiency,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli told Fox News. “It’s a core principle — the American Dream itself — and it’s one of the things that distinguishes us, and it’s central to the legal history in the U.S. back into the 1800s.”
Designated benefits currently include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rule, however, allows for additional benefits to be considered.
Immigrant activists and many Democrats are fiercely opposed to the public charge rule. Instead, they have consistently opposed measures to limit welfare for immigrants and actually even called for the extension of government aid to illegal immigrants.
“This policy is yet another way for the Trump administration to hurt immigrants,” said Claudia Center, attorney with the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program. “It enshrines the false stereotype that people with disabilities do not contribute to our society. Families will suffer. Congress has repeatedly declared that disability discrimination violates federal law. This rule must be stopped.”
Not surprisingly, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, DNC Chair Tom Perez, also opposed the ruling.
“It’s sickening to see the United States Supreme Court rubber-stamp Trump’s extreme, anti-immigrant, xenophobic agenda,” he said. “The conservative justices of the court are allowing the Trump administration to penalize those seeking help and close the door on their aspirations to become a part of and give back to this country as American citizens or residents.”