By Xenia Shih Bion, California Health Care Foundation, February 3, 2020
In a 5-4 vote reflecting the ideological split among the justices, the US Supreme Court on January 27 decided to allow the Trump administration to commence enforcement (PDF) of its “public charge” rule nationwide. Only Illinois, where a statewide injunction is currently in effect, will not begin enforcing the rule. The regulation was slated to take effect last October, but federal judges in California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Washington blocked its implementation after states and immigrant rights groups challenged its legality. Federal appeals courts later lifted all but New York’s nationwide injunction and Illinois’ statewide injunction. The Supreme Court has now “stayed,” or put on hold, New York’s injunction, allowing the rule to take effect while the litigation continues.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said the new rule will become effective February 24.
The public charge rule sparked controversy because it “would expand the government’s ability to refuse green cards or visas for legal immigrants determined to be a ‘public charge,’ or dependent on public assistance,” Susannah Luthi explained in Politico. “Those using or likely to use Medicaid, food stamps, and other safety-net programs would face greater scrutiny from immigration officials.”