The United States Supreme Court declined to review a lawsuit filed by Texas and 13 other states, which had sought to revive the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule.
The issue, notes The Texas Tribune, centers on the Trump administration’s decision to broaden the definition of the term “public charge” to include noncitizens who rely on or receive public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing benefits.
The public charge provision, notes CNN, dates back to the Immigration Act of 1882. Federal lawmakers at the time wanted to ensure that immigrants to the United States would be able to take care of themselves and not act as a net drain on the government.
While the rule has existed for over a century, the Trump administration interpreted it in a more stringent fashion. The former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Kevin Cuccinelli, attracted some controversy by revising the iconic poem upon the Statue of Liberty, saying, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
Under the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, documented, legal immigrants would have been unable to attain permanent residency or citizenship if they had availed—or were likely to avail—varied types of government assistance.
However, the public charge rule was quickly challenged in courts and later found invalid.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration filed numerous lawsuits and appeals to revive the rule. But in March of this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced that, under President Joe Biden, it would no longer defend the policy in court.
“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
The sudden policy reversal prompted Texas and 13 other states to file a lawsuit with the 7th Circuit, in which they petitioned the court to revive and uphold the public charge rule.
In the lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton alleged that the Biden administration had rescinded the rule in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Paxton further claimed that that without the public charge rule Texas’s “Medicaid budget and other vital services will explode and be spread too thin, costing taxpayers millions more and reducing the quality of service we can provide.”