The Supreme Court Just Put Immigrants In the Crosshairs–Again (Video)

In August, the Trump administration ramped up its next phase in the war on immigrants when it decided to deny green cards or visas to immigrants who rely on public benefits like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medicaid, and Section-8 housing.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 5-4 to permit this “public charges” policy to proceed.

The rule was supposed to begin in October but met opposition from federal courts in California, Maryland, and New York, whom Justice Neil Gorsuch rebuked for issuing “nationwide injunctions“:

“The rise of nationwide injunctions may just be a sign of our impatient times. But good judicial decisions are usually tempered by older virtues.” 

Immigrant rights activists were quick to call out his hypocrisy.

American Immigration Council policy analyst, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, criticized:

“The minute a Democratic president starts issuing regulations that the conservative members of the Supreme Court disagree with, watch them suddenly drop all opposition to nationwide injunctions.”

Last August‘s public charge rule dates back to 19th century law state and local governments used against emancipated slaves or poor and infirm immigrants.

More than 100 companies, including Twitter, Microsoft, and LinkedIn filed an amicus brief Jan. 16, arguing the public charge rule “creates substantial, unprecedented, and unnecessary obstacles for individuals seeking to come to the United States or, once here, to adjust their immigration status,” adding:

“Immigrants will receive fewer public benefits under the Rule, they will cut back their consumption of goods and services, depressing demand throughout the economy.”

The companies also asserted the rule cause enrollment of health services including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to decline.

Calling the court’s ruling “shameful,” Amnesty International USA’s Americas Advocacy Airector, Charanya Krishnaswami, explained:

“The so-called ‘public charge’ rule is nothing more than a repackaging of demonstrably false and harmful stereotypes about migrants. By allowing it to proceed, SCOTUS is allowing the administration to weaponize xenophobia.” 

A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows that, in addition to an anticipated decline in low-income immigrants seeking necessary services, about 42 percent of legal immigrants could experience green card applications “weighed negatively.”

Last year, the State Department cited “public charge” grounds to disqualify over 12,000 visa applicants.

By contrast, 1,033 people were denied the final year of the Obama administration.

Legal Aid Society attorney Susan Welber urges immigrants consult legal experts “before assuming it applies to them.”

An Illinois federal appeals court is upholding a statewide injunction, making it the only state where the rule change remains “frozen.”

The Trump administration warmed up this recent policy the first year in power when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated the White House sought to impose fees on retailers participating in SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps.

The end of last year saw the Agriculture Department (USDA) announcing a formalized work requirements for SNAP recipients, causing 700,000 Americans to risk losing the safety net they have relied on to feed themselves and their families.

The majority of the country does not support the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 72 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.