public charge
January 27, 2020

Immigrants may now face visa and citizenship restrictions based on their past or hypothetical future use of public benefits.

In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration's public charge rule to take effect nationwide. The rule would restrict immigrants who are considered or could later be considered a "public charge" from gaining legal status, and comes despite multiple prior courts striking down the rule.

The Monday decision came along ideological lines, with the court's four liberal justices dissenting from the majority opinion. U.S. District Judge George Daniels previously struck down the rule, mirroring critics who've called it a "wealth test" for immigrants by saying the rule is "repugnant to the American dream." Daniels had also placed an injunction on the rule's implementation due to a likely appeal to the Supreme Court, and the higher court lifted that injunction Monday.

The theory of a public charge rule has existed for decades, but wasn't codified until the Trump administration drew up this rule in 2017. The rule targets people attempting to legally immigrate into the U.S. by assessing if they have used public benefits such as food stamps in the past, or if they might use them after gaining legal status. If the government determines a person is or could become a "public charge," they can block a person from getting a visa, green card, citizenship, and other forms of legal status. Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads