As usual, the Justices split 5-4 along ideological lines, but on Monday, the Trump Administration’s rule change that will deny foreign nationals green cards if they are receiving public assistance was given a green light.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) dictates that foreign nationals should not receive green cards if they are “likely at any time to become a public charge.” At issue in Monday’s case is the definition of “public charge.” In recent years, the term was defined as a person primarily dependent on a cash assistance program.
The Trump administration promulgated a new rule in August 2019 that expands the definition to include those likely to use non-cash benefit programs like Medicaid, food stamps, or housing benefits for a period of months. The rule does not apply to humanitarian migrants like refugees or asylum-seekers.
“Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle in America,” then-acting director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli said of the new policy during a 2019 White House press conference. “The virtues of perseverance, hard work, and self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States.”
Naturally, this changed was challenged in lower federal court, and the Supremes who have added members under this president, basically said, “Go right ahead.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch offered a separate opinion addressing the issue of nationwide injunctions that seem to be the remedy of choice in lower courts.
In a separate opinion accompanying Monday’s order, Gorsuch said the high court should consider the propriety of nationwide injunctions in an appropriate case. The justice expressed concern that such injunctions hurl disputes into an emergency posture that requires quick resolution. In contrast, Gorsuch said the judicial process is meant to move slowly and methodically.
“By their nature, universal injunctions tend to force judges into making rushed, high-stakes, low-information decisions,” Gorsuch wrote.
“The rise of nationwide injunctions may just be a sign of our impatient times,” he added. “But good judicial decisions are usually tempered by older virtues.”