Supreme Court Allows President Trump’s Cruelest New Immigration Rule to Move Forward

The Trump Administration has spent three years trying to erect a wealth test for green cards. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the Administration to begin enforcing its new “public charge” rule, which makes it harder for lower-income immigrants to get visas or green cards if they participate in Medicaid, SNAP, and other public benefits, which often augment inadequate income from low wages or inconsistent hours. If fully implemented, the rule will leave some of the most vulnerable among us with a heartbreaking choice: continue to make even occasional use of vital life-saving government benefits that they are entitled to under federal law and risk losing any chance at a green card, or drop out of those services and risk their health and safety, and that of their spouses, children, and other relatives. 

The public charge rule is a direct assault on tens of thousands of Mississippians. The new policy could cause up to 73,000 immigrants and family members in Mississippi, including over 22,000 children, to stop using public benefits like Medicaid or SNAP or to avoid enrolling in them in the first place. Nearly all of those impacted are immigrants of color, and many of the children are U.S. citizens. We’ve heard firsthand from lawfully present immigrants across Mississippi who are so terrified of the new policy that they are deliberately avoiding health and nutrition assistance for themselves and their children, leaving them sick and hungry. Most immigrants who are subject to public charge are not eligible for the programs listed in the rule, but the Trump Administration is using lies about people of color and fear to rip health care, food, and other basic human rights away from millions nationwide.

Let me be blunt. President Trump’s public charge rule is designed to sow fear in immigrant communities of color. At its core, this policy says that if you are not white and wealthy, you are not welcome in America. It is a direct attack on the fundamental values that make our country great. The rule will endanger Mississippi’s health care system, widen health inequities, and worsen hunger in our state, especially among immigrants of color and their families. That’s why the Mississippi Center for Justice has been at the forefront of the battle against the new rule from the beginning, and our fight is far from over.

Last winter, the Mississippi Center for Justice joined more than 260,000 elected officials, faith leaders, health care and public health practitioners, nonprofits, and Americans from all walks of life nationwide by submitting public comments opposing the new policy. It didn’t stop the Trump Administration from finalizing the new rule late last summer. In response, the Mississippi Center for Justice joined a coalition of other legal and advocacy groups in filing an amicus brief challenging the legality of the new rule.

Federal courts across the country issued nationwide injunctions temporarily blocking the rule from going into effect. In his order, Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York called the rule “repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.” 

On Monday, a narrowly-divided U.S. Supreme Court split across ideological lines and lifted the final nationwide injunction, allowing the Trump Administration to begin enforcing the new policy while lower courts continue to wrestle with the multiple lawsuits challenging the rule.

That means our fight against this cruel policy is far from over. The Mississippi Center for Justice is lobbying Congress, organizing Know Your Rights trainings for immigrant communities, and providing legal help and resources to help immigrants get the facts they need to make the right choices for their families. We will continue to work with partners and allies in Mississippi and across the country to combat this immoral policy using every tool at our disposal

We have miles to go before we sleep. We need your help and your support as we continue our fight against the Administration’s war on immigrants who aren’t white and wealthy. Discriminatory policies like the public charge rule set a precedent for erecting barriers to all people of color in America, immigrants and native-born. Together, we must fight back and build a better future for all Mississippians.

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For more information, contact Madeline Morcelle, JD, MPH, Director of Public Benefits Law, at the Mississippi Center for Justice: mmorcelle@mscenterforjustice.org.