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Public Charge Rule Dead as Supreme Court Dismisses Court Case

Public Charge Rule Dead as Supreme Court Dismisses Court Case

Ending a signature Trump era policy, the Supreme Court March 9 dismissed the Department of Homeland Security v. New York case, which challenged the public charge rule that effectively imposed a wealth tax on immigrants seeking to obtain permanent legal status in the U.S. Earlier, 57 members of Congress — including Indian American Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna — had written to President-elect Joe Biden Jan. 12, asking him to immediately rescind the public charge rule after taking office. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

By SUNITA SOHRABJI/India-West Staff Reporter

Ending a signature Trump era policy, the Supreme Court March 9 dismissed the Department of Homeland Security v. New York case, which challenged the public charge rule that effectively imposed a wealth tax on immigrants seeking to obtain permanent legal status in the U.S.

A 1999 policy will now go back into effect, making it safe for immigrant families to get health, nutrition, and housing aid.

The Court made its decision shortly after DHS issued a statement asking that the rule be revoked. DHS had been charged with defending a case left over from the Trump era, in which several immigration aid organizations had sued the federal government to rescind the rule.

Rep. Joaquin Castro said in a tweet March 9 afternoon: “Trump’s public charge rule — a wealth test for immigrants — intended to instill fear in families applying for eligible benefits. It was also designed to discriminate against the spouses of U.S. citizens applying for green cards. I welcome its repeal by President Biden.”

In a statement, DHS noted that President Joe Biden on Feb. 2 issued Executive Order 14,012, asking the agency to review the validity of the public charge rule.

“As part of its review, DHS has determined that continuing to defend the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” rule, is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources. Consistent with that decision, the Department of Justice will no longer pursue appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining enforcement of the 2019 Rule,” stated DHS.

The agency noted that use of federal public benefits would not invalidate an immigrant’s application for legal permanent status. The public charge rule considered a person’s use of Medicaid, public housing, food stamps and other benefits to determine inadmissibility. Even before the rule went into effect, immigrants dis-enrolled themselves and their children from benefits such as school lunches to protect their immigration status.

DHS confirmed that medical treatment or preventive services for COVID-19, including vaccines, will not be considered for public charge purposes.

Immigrant advocates have stated that millions of immigrant families have denied themselves medical and economic relief amid the pandemic for fear of violating the public charge rule.

Last month, 500 nonprofit organizations sent a letter to Biden, urging his administration to rescind the public charge rule.

“The Trump public charge policy was about sending the message that if you’re not white and you’re not wealthy, you’re not welcome in America. Today’s filing sends a very different message to millions in immigrant families: it’s safe to get the health care and help you need,” said Eddie Carmona, campaigns director with the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition, in a press statement.

“Today’s actions by the Biden administration pave the way for ending Trump’s dangerous and racist public charge wealth test,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, in a press statement.

“For the last four years, the National Immigration Law Center and diverse allies across the nation in the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition have fought back against this cruel policy that threatened the health, nutrition, and housing of millions of families. It is dangerous to the health and well-being of our nation, and has impeded our ability to fully recover from the pandemic,” she said.

Earlier, India-West had reported that 57 members of Congress — including Indian American Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna — had written to President-elect Joe Biden Jan. 12, asking him to immediately rescind the public charge rule after taking office.

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