The Supreme Court to decide the future of Trump’s “Public Charge Rule”
On Monday, February 22, 2021, the US Supreme Court of Justice took several rules and policies implemented by the Donald Trump administration to decide whether they can be implemented or not, which were challenged in several lower courts through legal processes filed by opposition groups.
One of the policies that the Supreme Court took for review is Trump’s “Public Charge Rule”, which substantially restricts immigrants’ ability to apply for legal permanent residence (Green Card applications), extend non-immigrant permits or change non-immigrant status, except for some specific scenarios.
The rule states, among other things, that immigration applications from foreigners who have used one or more public benefits such as food stamps or Supplemental Security Income for more than 12 months in a 36-month period, may be rejected since they could become a “public charge,” that is, a burden on the economy and local governments.
It is important to clarify that this rule was first implemented more than 100 years ago, according to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). However, the Trump administration modified it and increased parameters to deny immigration applications.
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The “Public Charge Rule” went through multiple legal processes
Trump’s public charge rule has been embroiled in multiple legal processes over the past few years and several courts have intervened on the case. For instance, in July 2020, a federal judge in New York stated that the rule should be invalidated during the health crisis caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic to avoid a massive outbreak among immigrant communities and for the US to be able to overcome the sanitary emergency.
After this ruling, in September 2020, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the re-implementation of the public charge rule even though the health crisis was still present and the US was still the main epicenter of the global pandemic.
Between November 2 and 3, 2020, two courts intervened in the case again. On the one hand, an Illinois judge overruled the public charge rule on November 2, stating that the Trump administration’s arguments were “capricious and arbitrary.” On the other hand, on November 3, during the presidential election, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the public charge rule was valid and could be implemented again.
The last event related to the public charge rule took place in early December 2020, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against this rule and stated that the Trump administration’s arguments were not strong enough or verifiable as to deny immigration applications under the premise of public charge.
Therefore, the fact that the Supreme Court intervenes in this case could be the culmination of a seemingly endless legal battle. Adding to that, the Supreme Court could also set parameters and guidelines for future administrations regarding this type of restrictions on the immigration system.
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