Supreme Court May Consider Reviving Immigrant Self-Sufficiency Rule

By Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.
October 27, 2021 Updated: October 27, 2021

This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether it will hear a request from 13 states to be allowed to defend in court a rule designed to screen out would-be immigrants unable to support themselves, a regulation that the Biden administration refuses to defend.

The public charge rule, which has been heavily litigated in federal courts, requires applicants hoping to immigrate to the United States to be able to make their own way financially.

The case is Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco, court file 20-1775. The petitioners are the states of Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

Among the respondents are the states of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. San Francisco and Santa Clara, California, are also respondents, along with the federal government.

The Supreme Court justices are scheduled to consider the 13 states’ petition for certiorari, or review, on Oct. 29, after failing to come to a decision three times previously at their judicial conferences in recent weeks.

Over particularly robust left-wing opposition, the Trump administration breathed new life into the rule, which had fallen into disuse. Critics say the pro-taxpayer rule is xenophobic and discriminates against poor aliens.

The public-charge principle, the idea that immigrants should have to prove they can survive without becoming wards of the government, has been part of the American experience for centuries.

Public-charge provisions have been part of U.S. immigration law since at least 1882. One of the earliest known public-charge laws in colonial Massachusetts was enacted in 1645. By the end of the 1600s, many American colonies screened would-be immigrants and required bonds for those believed likely to become public charges.

But the Biden administration, in line with Democrats’ political base, opposes the rule and rescinded it in March.

At the time, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, spoke in favor of the rule.

“All we are trying to do is uphold common sense immigration rules that ensure that folks that come to this country can truly be self-sufficient,” Brnovich told The Hill newspaper.

“This policy ensures our government welfare programs won’t be overrun.”

The Supreme Court has dealt with the issue repeatedly in recent years.

The high court stayed a lower court’s injunction against the rule in January 2020, allowing it to be enforced pending disposition of the government’s appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

Things changed after President Joe Biden took office. On Feb. 2, he issued Executive Order 14012, which directed government officials to review the rule. Days later, the Biden administration announced it would no longer defend the public charge rule.

On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the federal government’s appeal of a lower court decision against the rule in the case of U.S. Department of Homeland Security v. New York, court file 20-449, which began when Trump was president.

The Biden administration dropped the appeal that came from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court ordered the case dismissed on March 9 after the parties to the legal proceeding signed a joint stipulation to dismiss.

On the same day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit lifted its stay of a lower court’s decision vacating the public charge rule nationwide, a move that allowed the district court’s invalidation of the rule to take effect.

And the respondents fighting the rule acted.

“Without any prior warning, the existing parties sprung an unprecedented, coordinated, and multi-court gambit,” the petition states.

“Through it, they attempted to execute simultaneous, strategic surrenders in all pending appeals involving the Rule. That included the Second Circuit appeal that this Court had already agreed to hear, as well as the pending petitions for writs of certiorari in this case and the Seventh Circuit case.”

The Republican state attorneys general in the current litigation wish to continue defending the rule.

“The Petitioning States have significant protectable interests in the continuing validity of the Rule and that interest was no longer being represented at all,” the petition states.

It’s estimated that the rule “would save all of the states cumulatively $1.01 billion annually, and the Petitioning States here would save a share of that amount.”

Acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.