Supreme Court ruling authorizes government to apply "public charge" rule

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court today authorized President Donald J. Trump's administration to implement a new rule that seeks to declare immigrants inadmissible to the United States if there is any likelihood that they could become a public charge.

According to the policy, which the Government announced in August 2019In addition, immigration officials may deny permanent residency to certain immigrants who use public benefits.

Immigrant advocacy groups immediately objected, and several lawsuits were filed, leading to three federal judges to temporarily block implementation of the rule.

The ruling by the country's highest court reversed a temporary block of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York.

Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Brett M. Kavanaugh, John G. Roberts, Jr. and Samuel A. Alito voted to allow the rule to go into effect while litigation in various federal courts around the country continues to rage.

The jurists opined in their ruling that "[t]he real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as mandates of 'national,' 'universal,' or 'cosmic' scope, these orders share the same basic flaw: they direct how the defendant should act toward persons who are not parties to the case."

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voted against.

Significance of the Supreme Court's decision and guidance

For the time being, the Trump Administration will be able to implement the new public charge rule, except in Illinois where a block remains in place. Litigation in federal courts in various districts around the country will continue and future appeals of those court decisions are expected.

Every immigrant who intends to apply for immigration benefits should be evaluated by an experienced and licensed U.S. immigration attorney to determine his or her legal options before beginning any proceedings. This is necessary to determine if the person meets all the requirements, including not being a public charge to the United States.

No one who is receiving public benefits should stop using them for fear of the new public charge rule. Anyone who has received, is receiving, or plans to apply for public benefits in the United States should check with the state office responsible for administering those services where they live to determine their eligibility. Never lie on your applications for public benefits, including hiding assets or income.

I remind you that the new law on public charge has several exemptions and does not apply to U.S. citizens.. It also does not apply to persons applying for permanent residence through humanitarian benefits, asylum seekers, special immigrant juveniles (SIJS), certain victims of human trafficking (T nonimmigrant T visa), victims of qualified criminal activity (U nonimmigrant U visa), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others.

If in doubt, consult with an immigration attorney before canceling or discontinuing your application for public benefits.