SCOTUS to hear arguments from GOP-led states seeking to defend Trump-era immigration rule

In a blow to the current administration’s efforts to reverse Trump-era immigration policy, the U.S. Supreme Court Friday announced that it would hear arguments from a group of GOP-led states interested in defending a rule limiting green cards for individuals found likely to require welfare – a move they say was necessitated by the Biden Justice Department’s decision to end its involvement in the matter.

As USA Today notes, the controversy involves the “public charge” rule implemented by the Trump administration back in 2019, which required the denial of green cards to anyone deemed likely to rely on a range of specified social welfare programs, including food stamps and rental assistance.

The notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently struck down the Trump-era expansion of the rule, and while the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments challenging that outcome, the newly-installed Biden administration declared that it would no longer defend the policy in court.

As Fox News noted, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated in March of this year, “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.”

In response, a group of 11 states headed by Republican leadership launched an effort to intervene and provide a defense of the rule in the DOJ’s absence, asking the high court to review the matter in its entirety, arguing that the Biden administration’s abandonment of the case was unprecedented and was characterized by an attempt to execute “simultaneous, strategic surrenders in all pending appeals involving the Rule.”

In permitting arguments in the matter to be heard, the Supreme Court has limited review to the issue of whether the states at issue have standing to defend the public charge rule, given that the Ninth Circuit found that they do not. Not under review at the high court, according to USA Today, is the underlying matter of whether an incoming administration can unilaterally scuttle a predecessor administration’s rule simply by abandoning the legal defense of it.

The petition, led by the state of Arizona, but joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, argues that each of the jurisdictions in question has an important interest in “conserving their Medicaid and related social welfare budgets” and therefore they should be permitted to litigate the legality of the Trump-era rule.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona explained, according to Fox News, “The Public Charge Rule is a commonsense policy based on a real inconvenient truth. Overrunning our welfare programs right now would be like pulling back the last safety net for Americans who need it most.”

Biden’s immigration agenda already suffered a significant setback in late summer when the high court ordered the reinstatement of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, and hopefully this group of states will succeed in dealing his administration yet another blow by securing the right to defend what to millions of Americans is a fair and logical approach to those wishing to establish permanent residency.