According to reporting from NBC News, the Biden Administration informed the Supreme Court that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is dropping its defense of the former President Trump’s so-called ‘Public Charge’ rule. With consent of the parties, the nation’s highest court dismissed the upcoming case on the matter. In this article, our Los Angeles immigration attorney explains four key things you should know about the legal maneuver and its implications for the future of federal policy.
The Public Charge Rule Punished Immigrants for Using Basic Social Services
Under federal immigration law, the government can deny admission or a green card to immigrants deemed to be a “likely public charge.” The old standard defined a ‘public charge’ in a relatively narrow manner. In 2018, President Trump radically changed the rules. Immigrants could be considered a public charge based on age, health status, education, or family status.
The policy matters. In effect, it punishes immigrants and their families for using basic social services, including food assistance and health insurance coverage. In 2019, the Washington Post cited public policy experts who argued that the Trump Administration’s public charge rule led to a sharp increase in the number of immigrant children without health insurance.
The Public Charge Rule Was Still Being Challenged in Court
The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear a case on the legality of the public charge rule later this year. Though, there were already some early indications that the conservative controlled court was going to rule in favor of the federal government—allowing the new, far harsher rules to remain in place.
The Biden Administration Will Not Defend the Rule (Good News)
The DOJ is responsible for defending the federal government’s position before the Supreme Court. However, the Biden Administration does not support the public charge rule. In February, President Biden issued an Executive Order mandating a review of the Trump Administration’s policy. As explained by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Executive Order gave the DOJ and DHS 60 days to identify appropriate actions to address concerns about the rule’s effect on our immigration system and national health.
Additional Regulatory Guidance is Expected in the Near Future
With the Biden Administration dropping its legal defense and the Supreme Court dismissing the case, new policy guidance is expected in the coming weeks. It is likely that the Biden Administration will shift federal policy back to what it was before President Trump took office. Some policy guidance may also be needed to help the people who have been adversely impacted by the Trump Administration’s harsh public charge policy.
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