Circumstances by which Trump’s immigration rule “public cost” is examined are dismissed

SCOTUS news

By Amy Howe


at 2:56 p.m.

Just over two weeks after the Supreme Court announced it would review the Trump administration’s “public charges” regulating the admission of immigrants to the United States, the case (as well as two others who asked the same question) broke on Rejected Tuesday at the request of the Biden administration and opponents who complained about the rule. Acting Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar’s filings were the latest in a series of filings by the Biden administration in which controversial immigration issues that arose during the Trump administration were removed from the Supreme Court file.

Under federal immigration law, non-citizens cannot get a green card if the government believes they are likely to need government assistance – that is, a “public charge”. In 2019, the Trump administration defined the term “public indictment” more broadly than in the past to refer to non-citizens receiving various government benefits such as Medicaid or grocery stamps for more than 12 months over a three-year period.

Several challenges to the rule of the Trump administration followed. The US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the challengers, which included a group of states led by New York and various nonprofit groups. The US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit followed suit. On February 22, the Supreme Court of the Department of Homeland Security v New York granted the government’s motion (filed in October 2020 by Jeffrey Wall, the Acting Attorney General of the Trump administration) to review the 2nd Circuit’s decision.

Even when the Supreme Court agreed to take up the public prosecution matter, it seemed likely that the dispute would not survive until the judges heard a hearing in the fall. In early February, the Biden government ordered a review of the public fee rule. And in a joint filing on Tuesday, Prelogar told judges that everyone involved in the case had agreed that it should be dismissed. Prelogar filed similar documents in two other cases where the federal government asked the judges to review the 7th and 9th circuit decisions.

Prelogar’s motions fell under Supreme Court rule 46.1, which instructs the clerk to dismiss the case – without the judges’ permission – if all sides agree. As with three petitions last week regarding the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold money for law enforcement from so-called “protected cities,” Scott Harris, the court clerk, acted quickly to do so.

In February, the court overturned oral disputes in two additional immigration cases following political changes by the Biden government. One case involved funding the wall along the US-Mexico border. The other involved a Trump administration policy whereby some asylum seekers in Mexico had to wait before an asylum trial.

This article was originally published by Howe on the Court.

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