Court Battles

Supreme Court allows ‘public charge’ rule to take effect nationwide

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration on Friday night in a case that contested the president’s “public charge” rule, which critics have called a “wealth test” for legal immigrants.

The policy in question, the Immigration and Nationality Act, would make it harder for immigrants who are “likely at any time to become a public charge” to obtain green cards. The policy discourages legal immigrants in the process of obtaining permanent legal status or citizenship from using public assistance, including Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps.

The case heard by the court, Wolf v. Cook County, sought to reject the policy’s effect in Illinois. The district court filed a preliminary injunction, which temporarily halted the policy in the state and sent the case to the Supreme Court. On Friday, the five conservative justices ruled in favor of the stay, while the liberal justices opposed it.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in January to lift a nationwide injunction imposed by a federal judge in New York while the case played out in appeals court. Last week, Solicitor General Noel Francisco sent a request asking the court to do the same for an injunction imposed by an Illinois district court.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, issued a dissenting opinion in Friday’s ruling, accusing the court of having a tendency to rule in favor of the administration without critically examining the cases.

The Trump administration first introduced the rule in August and was immediately met by opposition from immigration advocates.

The White House on Saturday praised the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“We are gratified by the Supreme Court ruling on Friday night lifting the final remaining injunction on the public charge regulation,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess of United States taxpayers.”

Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli has described the rule as simply verifying that immigrants “can stand on their two feet.”

The rule will go into effect nationwide on Monday.

Updated at 5:44 p.m.

Tags Illinois Immigration public charge Sonia Sotomayor Stephanie Grisham Supreme Court

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