California residents are probably aware that many of the Trump administration’s immigration policies were extremely controversial and often challenged in various courts. President Joe Biden has put an end to many of these policies, which has triggered even more litigation. A legal battle that has attracted a lot of media attention was initiated by 14 Republican attorneys general who want to bring back a Trump policy that made it more difficult for immigrants to receive permanent residency if they apply for government benefits like food stamps or Medicaid. That effort now appears to have run its course.
The public charge rule
A public charge rule has been in effect for decades, but it has traditionally been implemented only when immigrants would likely become dependent on welfare programs for subsistence. The Trump administration introduced a revised public charge rule in 2019 that denied immigrants green cards if they receive public assistance for more than a year during any three-year period. The rule went into effect in February 2020, and it was rescinded by the Biden White House in March 2021.
Attorneys general file lawsuit
The decision to end the Trump immigration rule prompted the attorneys general from 14 Republican-controlled states to mount a challenge. They claimed that the rule should be reinstated because it saves states about a billion dollars each year in benefits payments. A federal judge in Illinois dismissed the lawsuit because it had been filed too late, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the dismissal. The attorneys general then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, but the justices dashed their hopes on Jan. 9 by rejecting the case.
A nation of immigrants
The United States is often called a nation of immigrants, but it probably would not be if things like the public charge rule had been in place earlier in its history. Taxpayers and not politicians ultimately pay the costs of programs like the food stamps and Medicaid, and they have made their feelings clear at the ballot box. Some sort of public charge rule may be necessary, but it should be lenient rather than draconian.