Supreme Court Allows Trump Admin To Enforce ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Restriction

Written by Martin Walsh

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to enforce its “public charge” immigration restriction, lifting a pair of preliminary injunctions issued by federal judges.

The Monday order followed a 5-4 split vote that divided the court’s conservatives and liberals, Newsweek reports.

The “Public Charge” rule states that legal immigrants are less likely to secure permanent residency in the U.S. if they have used any forms of welfare in the past, such as food stamps or other taxpayer-funded housing programs.

At issue is the administration’s rule issued in August that would restrict immigrants entering the United States if the government believes they will rely on public assistance, such as housing or health care benefits. Lower federal courts had blocked the policy from being implemented while the issue is being litigated.

After losing at the lower courts, the Justice Department asked the high court to intervene, allowing temporary enforcement until the issue is resolved on the merits. The states of Connecticut, Vermont, and New York, as well as New York City and immigrant rights groups, had brought the suit.

Justice Neil Gorsuch — supported by Justice Clarence Thomas — wrote a separate concurrence on Monday, criticizing the increased reliance on nationwide injunctions to block government policies.

“The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of ‘nationwide,’ ‘universal,’ or ‘cosmic’ scope, these orders share the same basic flaw—they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case,” Gorsuch wrote.

The court’s liberal justices, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, would have blocked the regulation’s enforcement.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement that the Public Charge rule is merely a continuation of “longstanding law” dating back to the 1800s.

The rule, announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in August, defines a “public charge” as an immigrant who received one or more designated benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period.

Most recently in 1996, a rule demanding legal immigrants to be self-sufficient was codified into federal statute but has hardly ever been enforced.

Cuccinelli said: “This rule enforces longstanding law requiring aliens to be self-sufficient, reaffirming the American ideals of hard work, perseverance, and determination. It also offers clarity and expectations to aliens considering a life in the United States and will help protect our public benefits programs.”

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When Trump won the presidential election in 2016, one of the main reasons conservatives came out to vote is to reshape the Supreme Court.

Their votes have paid major dividends in the form of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

The court has rendered many decisions in favor of conservatives and the Trump administration since, including this major one on immigration.