Trump asks Supreme Court to let immigrant 'public charge' rule take effect

Trump asks Supreme Court to let immigrant 'public charge' rule take effect
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to allow it to move forward with a rule aimed at cutting back benefits for immigrants while litigation plays out in court.

The Justice Department, on behalf of the administration, asked the justices to lift a nationwide halt on President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE’s "public charge" rule that links immigrants’ legal status to their use of public benefits.

The move came after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last week kept in place a nationwide injunction entered by a federal district judge in New York.

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Two similar injunctions were lifted last month by federal appeals courts in Virginia and California. But the injunction from the New York-based federal court continues to apply across the country.

Under the Trump policy, an immigrant would be considered a public charge, or dependent, for receiving at least one public benefit such as Medicaid or food stamps for more than 12 months within any three-year period.

At issue in the case is whether the Trump administration has the proper authority to expand the definition of who is considered a public charge.

The groups challenging the Trump administration's more-expansive definition of public charge urged the Supreme Court not to lift the injunction.

"Now, more than ever, it is critical that the public charge policy, which the lower courts called ‘repugnant to the American Dream of prosperity and opportunity through hard work and upward mobility,’ continues to be blocked," the litigants, who represent several public interest groups, said in a statement. "Every day our injunction remains in effect, it protects millions of hard-working immigrant families across the nation.”

The rule represents a more stringent approach to a long-standing immigration law than those taken by recent administrations and is likely to make it harder for some immigrants to obtain a green card to reside permanently in the U.S.

The policy was quickly challenged in court, leading to several nationwide injunctions before it could take effect.

--This report was updated on Jan. 14 at 7:32 a.m.