The 13 states that banded together to try to defend the so-called public charge rule are weighing their options about how to revive the policy after the Supreme Court dismissed their appeal, according to an aide to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
The Trump-era rule screened out potentially taxpayer-dependent immigrants but the Biden administration refused to defend it before the often-reversed U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
In addition to Brnovich, a Republican, the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia were also petitioners in the Supreme Court case. According to Brnovich, the rule saved the states, collectively, more than $1 billion per year—a figure the Biden administration disputes—and killing the rule would reimpose these costs on the states.
The public charge rule, which had fallen into disuse, was resurrected by the Trump administration in 2019 over vehement left-wing opposition. The rule allows the U.S. government to reject would-be immigrants who were deemed likely to consume public benefits such as food stamps, housing aid, and Medicaid.
Although critics claim the extensively litigated pro-taxpayer rule is xenophobic and discriminates against poor aliens, the public-charge principle—the idea that immigrants should have to prove they can survive in the United States without becoming wards of the government—has been part of the American experience for centuries.
Despite dropping Trump’s version of the public charge inadmissibility regulation, the Biden administration drafted a new, watered-down version.
The Supreme Court reversed itself on June 15 in Arizona v. San Francisco, deciding it erred when it previously agreed to hear an appeal by states that wanted to be given the opportunity to defend the pro-taxpayer immigrant self-sufficiency rule in court, as The Epoch Times reported. Brnovich argued the case before the high court on Feb. 23.
In an opinion concurring with the dismissal of the case, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Biden administration’s legal maneuvering in the case muddied the waters, making it difficult to flesh out the myriad complex issues involved.
“It has become clear that this mare’s nest could stand in the way of our reaching the question presented on which we granted certiorari, or at the very least, complicate our resolution of that question,” Roberts wrote (pdf), with the concurrence of Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch.
Brittni Thomason, spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, said the coalition of states is regrouping.
“We argued to uphold the 2019 Public Charge Rule at SCOTUS because this type of requirement has been part of our country’s immigration policies for over 100 years. It is common sense to protect our emergency assistance resources for American families and prevent them from being exhausted by escalating numbers of arriving migrants who cannot support themselves. Allowing the Biden administration to recklessly abandon the defense of such rules will further the devastating consequences of this border crisis—now, and for many years to come,” Thomason said.
“We appreciate the four justices who recognized that today’s dismissal should not affect other litigation related to the 2019 Public Charge Rule, its repeal, or replacement by a new rule. Our coalition of states will evaluate how best to continue this important fight,” she told The Epoch Times by email after press time on June 15.
Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, also vowed to continue to fight for the public charge rule.
“From Colonial times onwards, America has insisted that settlers and immigrants be self-sufficient, not taxpayer-dependent,” Wilcox told The Epoch Times by email.
“This rule has served our nation well, but in recent decades it hasn’t been enforced, to the point where immigrant households now depend on public assistance more than native households do. Despite this ruling, the fight will continue against this effort to trample the rule of law as well as the interests of Americans,” Wilcox said.
Meanwhile, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, an opponent of the Trump rule, celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision.
“While the fight is never over, immigrant communities in California and across the nation should rest a little easier tonight,” Bonta, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“The Trump-era public charge rule no longer exists. In court after court, we have prevailed against those who seek to tear us apart and rip away access to sorely needed public programs. In California, we will not let up in our efforts to defend the rights of all of our residents.”
This article by Matthew Vadum appeared June 16, 2022, in The Epoch Times.