Politics

Supreme Court Lifts Last Obstacle to Allow Enforcement of Public Charge Rule

The Supreme Court has voted to allow the Trump administration to enforce its “public charge” immigration rule in Illinois after previously allowing the rule to be enforced in other parts of the country.

The top court justices voted 5-4 on Feb. 21 to grant a stay on an injunction issued by a lower court in Illinois, allowing the Trump administration to enforce its “public charge” rule in the state while the appeal plays out in courts. This comes after the Supreme Court lifted nationwide injunctions issued by a New York District Court and upheld by the 2nd Circuit at the end of January.

The January decision allowed the Trump administration to enforce its rule across the country, except for Illinois, due to a separate injunction ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that applied to only that state.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor voted to deny the governments request to lift the Illinois injunction.

The public charge rule, which was issued in 2019, provides clarification about what factors would be considered when determining whether someone is likely at any time in the future to become a public charge. A public charge refers to an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence through assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid.

The rule will consider a person a public charge if they receive at least one government benefit for more than 12 months in a three-year period.

The Trump administration said the rule was implemented because it wanted to “see people coming to this country who are self-sufficient.” But opponents say the rule impedes immigrants and their families from accessing necessities such as health, food, and housing programs that supplement their wages and “help them make ends meet.”

The rule was challenged by several states and immigration groups, leading to injunctions that prevented the rule from going into effect on Oct. 15, 2019. Two federal appeals courts—the 4th Circuit and the 9th Circuit—lifted similar injunctions in December 2019. But the 2nd Circuit had 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 in January to lift those blocks.

The Trump administration filed another request (pdf) to the top court on Feb. 13 to lift the remaining injunction affecting Illinois so that the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect next week, could be applied in all 50 states.

As part of the decision, Justice Sotomayor wrote a dissent that was critical of the administration and her colleagues who granted the governments request. She said the government had failed to show an important element to warrant a grant of their request to lift the injunction as they were unable to show a likelihood of irreparable harm.

“The government is unable to articulate how many cases—if any—this narrow injunction would affect in the meantime,” Sotomayor wrote (pdf). “In sum, the governments only claimed hardship is that it must enforce an existing interpretation of an immigration rule in one state—just as it has done for the past 20 years—while an updated version of the rule takes effect in the remaining 49.”

Sotomayor also reproved other members of the court, saying that the court “is partly to blame for the breRead More – Source