On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote “stayed,” or effectively ended, the nationwide injunction barring the Government from implementing new public charge rules – rules which are meant to prevent the admission of certain immigrants who are or who are likely to become dependent on public benefits in the United States. As Justice Gorsuch recounts in his concurrence, on October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security began the process of creating this new rule, and, after ten months and over a quarter of a million public comments, finalized that rule. The rule was immediately challenged in courts throughout the country, and injunctions were both granted by district courts and “stayed” by appellate courts in, as Justice Gorsuch calls, a “hodge-podge” of jurisdictions.
Now the Supreme Court has ruled in, and, in a 5-4 vote with all conservative justices voting in favor, the expanded public charge rule is now being allowed to go into effect while litigation is pending – a decision that is guaranteed to have significant consequences for thousands of individuals who would like to come to the United States.
Notable for this rule is its vast scope and, as opponents to the rule argue, its overbroad and discriminatory criteria. Indeed, as the final rule states, numerous public comments were received that “generally stated that the rule creates an ageist system that favors wealthy, healthy, and highly educated individuals.” DHS’s response was only that any negative outcomes that certain groups experience were not the intention of the rule.
Some examples of factors that will be held against applicants for admission include the ability of the applicant to speak English, the age of the applicant, and the health of the applicant. This last factor has led disability rights groups throughout the country to argue against the legality of the rule, as certain laws, such as the Rehabilitation Act, prevent disability discrimination by an executive agency.
The Court battles now continue without the injunction and could take years to finally be resolved. While immigration advocates may be successful in the end, in the interim thousands of people will be affected. For some, this will simply add more administrative burden to the immigration process – more forms to fill out and more hoops to jump through. Others may find themselves outright barred from admission to the United States by this rule.
If you have questions on how the new public charge rule may affect you or a family member, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
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