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Biden rescinds Trump's 'public charge' rule

The Biden administration on Thursday formally rescinded the Trump-era “public charge” rule, which tightened restrictions on poorer immigrants seeking U.S. residency, as a dozen GOP state attorneys general scrambled to preserve it.

The move by Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to repeal his predecessor’s policy seemed, at least for the moment, to calm the controversy that surrounded the measure this week. 

“Today, DHS closed the book on the public charge rule,” Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasUS officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office Overnight Energy: Southeast sees gas shortages amid pipeline shutdown | Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack | Biden administration approves major offshore wind project MORE, the secretary of Homeland Security, said in a statement.

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The announcement came after a dozen top GOP state attorneys in recent days asked a federal appeals court for permission to defend the rule, seeking to take up a similar legal position to that of Trump’s Department of Justice before he left office.

The latest development also comes after the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted Biden’s request to drop a Trump administration appeal that sought to revive the immigration restrictions.

It was not immediately clear whether GOP attorneys would continue to pursue their legal fight to preserve the Trump-era policy. 

Enacted in 2019, Trump’s public charge rule imposed stricter financial requirements on would-be immigrants to the U.S. The rule directed federal immigration authorities to decline green cards and visas to applicants who were likely to become reliant on public aid — and expanded the universe of immigrants who fell into that category.

The policy sparked a number of legal challenges that were in various stages of litigation when Biden took the White House after pledging to roll back Trump’s hardline immigration stance if elected.

After the Biden administration made clear this week that it would not defend Trump’s expansive public charge rule, a dozen GOP state attorneys general stepped forward.

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Led by Arizona, the Republican lawyers asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for permission to defend the rule. 

Hours before the Biden administration rescinded Trump's policy, Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich (R) defended the rule in an interview with The Hill.

“All we are trying to do is uphold common sense immigration rules that ensure that folks that come to this country can truly be self-sufficient,” Brnovich said. “This policy ensures our government welfare programs won’t be overrun.”

Brnovich’s office did not respond when later asked whether the GOP legal strategy would change in light of Biden’s policy shift.