Thursday, 27 February, 2020

Supreme Court allows Trump to enforce 'public charge' immigration rule

Supreme Court gives Trump go-ahead to deny immigrants who use welfare Supreme Court hands win to President Trump on 'public charge' rule, which gives feds more power to block immigrants who are likely to require public assistance
Noel Elliott | 28 January, 2020, 00:38

The Department of Homeland Security announced in August that it would expand the definition of "public charge", to be applied to people whose immigration to the US could be denied because of a concern that they would primarily depend on the government for their income. But the 2nd Circuit has refused to set aside a pair of injunctions issued by a New York District Court, prompting the Trump administration to file an emergency request (pdf) to the top court earlier this month to lift those blocks.

Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli praised the ruling saying the Trump administration is "happy to see the Supreme Court step in the way they did here". Solicitor General Noel Francisco appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, asking the judges to allow the rule to come into force for the duration of the appeal process. Lower federal courts had blocked the policy from being implemented while the issue is being litigated.

More than 100 companies including Twitter, Microsoft and LinkedIn filed an amicus brief on January 16, saying that Trump's public charge rule "creates substantial, unprecedented, and unnecessary obstacles for individuals seeking to come to the United States or, once here, to adjust their immigration status".

The administration has said the new rule is needed to better ensure that immigrants will be self-sufficient. Critics have said the rule would disproportionately bar low-income people from developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia from permanent residency. In the past, that was largely based on an assessment that an immigrant would be dependent upon cash benefits.

President Trump has made immigration reform a key part of his agenda to slow down legal immigration and stop illegal immigration to the United States.

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The vast majority of people applying for permanent residency are not eligible for public benefits, but a 2019 Urban Institute study found that the rule is already banning people from seeking benefits for United States children for fear of harm their future immigration status. Benefits for family members are not considered under the rule.

The rules outline positive and negative factors to be considered by immigration officials in deciding green card applications.

The high court could give Trump more victories on immigration policy. A ruling is due by the end of June. The injunctions that have an expansive reach far outside the confines of the current case attracted criticism from Justice Neil Gorsuch, who in a separate concurring opinion underscored that the court at some point needed to "confront" the "real problem" of the case. They urged the Supreme Court to intervene at a "convenient time" to consider a case concerning the "escalation" of national injunctions.

The action of the Supreme Court administration may apply the rule statewide, except in IL, where a lower court ruling preventing its application in that state remains in place.

He said it creates "gamesmanship and chaos" in the courts, with both sides playing a game of chess as they try to advance or defense positions in multiple courts.

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