Supreme Court Issues Blow To Signature Trump Immigration Policy


The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from a group of Republican state Attorney Generals to intervene in a case regarding the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule as part of an effort to get the Trump era provisions restored. Thus, the Trump era rule, which targeted immigrants, is remaining off-the-books.

Although immigrants have long faced restrictions on green card access if they’re judged to be on their way to becoming a “public charge,” meaning an individual with a majority of their support provided by the government, the Trump administration expanded the government assistance that could factor into a public charge determination. Suddenly, Medicaid, housing assistance, and the like could count against immigrants, although prior to the Trump administration, only direct cash assistance — like Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration — was factored into determinations of whether someone would become a “public charge.”

During previous court proceedings, a District Court overturned the Trump administration’s public charge rule, although the court agreed to put a pause on their ruling while federal authorities launched an appeal to the relevant Court of Appeals. Once the Biden administration took over, federal authorities dropped the appeal, at which point the Republican state attorney generals seeking intervention from the Supreme Court sought to join the case and argue in favor of the Trump era public charge rule’s reinstatement. The Court of Appeals handling the case denied the Republican request to join the case, at which point the attorney generals in question went to the Supreme Court with a request to supersede the appeals court directive.

Originally, the Department of Homeland Security formally eliminated the Trump administration’s public charge provisions on March 15. Going forward, the Supreme Court has not put a complete stop to the Republican state attorney generals’ effort to revive the provisions — instead, they explicitly left the option open of the states heading to a lower-level District Court with their challenges to the Biden administration’s public charge moves. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has moved to end other Trump era immigration policies, including southern border wall construction and the Remain in Mexico program that forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims were considered.

Featured Image via Sunira Moses on Wikimedia Commons, available under a Creative Commons License