On Monday, January 21, the Supreme Court Justices voted 5-4 to allow the Trump Administration to start enforcing a rule that would make it harder for immigrants to obtain green cards and access government aid by ending the nationwide injunction. The Supreme Court’s decision is temporary as lawsuits in the lower courts stand over the “public charge” rule continues across the country. The Administration still can deny immigrants entrance or permission to work if they are considered low income or dependent on public assistance.

The public charge rule was set to take effect on October 15, 2019, before several federal judges, including in California, Maryland, and New York, entered injunctions blocking it. “Public charge” is a test applied to immigrants who the government believes will rely on public assistance based on the use of certain human services. In August 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they would expand the definition of who would be considered a “public charge” to ensure immigrants would not depend on the government for their income.

The Administration can deny entrance or permission to work to immigrants if they have made use of benefits programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, or public housing, and would exclude immigrants with low incomes. Even the threat of this policy has caused many immigrant families to stop making use of benefits despite their eligibility for them, for fear they will lose legal status. “We see this proposed rule as creating barriers for families who are immigrants and their children,” stated CWLA CEO and President Christine James-Brown. She also said, “As we pointed out in our 2018 agenda to the Administration, policies that may restrict access to human services that target some of these families including documented immigrants will only increase stress on the families and the children.” CWLA opposed the new public charge rule and submitted comments in December, click here to read the comments.