public charge

Supreme Court Allows Trump’s Public Charge Rule

On Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled to allow the new public charge rule to go into effect. After a lengthy legal battle, the Court sided with the Trump administration’s new policy.

What is the Public Charge Rule?

The Public Charge Rule establishes a test to determine whether an individual is likely to depend on public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers. If it is determined that an individual is likely to become a public charge then they will not be allowed into the US. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the rule is expected to impact approximately 382,000 people seeking to adjust their immigration status.

Who is a Public Charge?

An alien who receives public benefits above a certain threshold. The rule looks at factors such as age, employment history, health and finances to determine if someone is a public charge.

What was the legal battle?

The public charge rule was being halted by state lawsuits, so the Trump administration requested the Supreme Court take up the issue. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in the administration’s favor.

Once the Supreme Court lifted the lower courts’ injunctions, USCIS announced that the new public charge rule will become effective on February 24, 2020. The rule will become effective nation-wide expect in the State of Illinois where the rule is enjoined by a federal court.

The Court ruled 5-4 with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in the minority. Justice Ginsberg previously clashed with the President calling him a “faker” and Trump responded calling for Ginsberg’s resignation.

Arguments For and Against the Public Charge Rule

The Trump Administration defends the rule as a necessary tool to protect American interests. President Trump stated that “To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.”

USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli stated that “Throughout our history, self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream. Self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of hardworking immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States ever since. Through the enforcement of the public charge inadmissibility law, we will promote these long-standing ideals and immigrant success.”

Opponents of the rule argue that it goes against America’s core values etched on the Statue of Liberty. There have also been reports that immigrant families are avoiding using public benefit programs (which they are eligible for) due to fear of risking future green card status.

According to MPI analysis of U.S Census Bureau data, the population that could feel the rule’s “chilling effects” and disenroll includes 10 million noncitizens. Furthermore, some argue the rule’s rationale is questionable as all immigrants consume 39 percent fewer welfare benefits relative to all natives.

The Supreme Court ruling is also a tough loss for Big Tech. Major tech companies signed an amicus brief in opposition of the rule. The brief was signed by 104 companies and organizations who collectively employ approximately one million American workers and generate over a trillion dollars in revenue. The companies argued that the public charge rule creates substantial, unprecedented, and unnecessary obstacles for individuals seeking to come to the United States or adjust their immigration status. They further argued that the rule will slow economic growth, prevent businesses from expanding, and break faith core American values. Notable signatories included LinkedIn Corporation, Microsoft Corporation and Twitter.

Big Tech has been hindered by immigration policies in recent years. High rates of H-1B denials have led many to expand Canadian operations where immigration policies are friendlier.