COVID-19 Special Coverage
Supreme Court denies challenges to ‘public charge’ rule during COVID-19 crisis
MarkThomas / Pixabay
Supreme Court denies challenges to ‘public charge’ rule during COVID-19 crisis

The US Supreme Court denied requests Friday from New York, Connecticut, and Vermont to temporarily lift or modify the controversial “public charge” immigration rule during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “public charge” rule allows the Department of Homeland Security to refuse citizenship for immigrants who rely on monetary or nonmonetary government assistance. The US Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to implement the public charge rule in New York in January. The Supreme Court additionally extended implementation to every state in February. The states challenged the rule on April 13th, claiming that the rule prevents immigrants from accessing medical care during the COVID-19 crisis for fear of deportation. The states further contend that limited immigrant medical care can lead to more undetected COVID-19 infections throughout the general population, endangering public health.

Despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the challenge, the coalition of states may still continue to challenge the rule. In a statement Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James stated that her office plans to continue to challenge the rule on the district court level:

The Supreme Court’s order tonight allows us to continue the fight to halt the Public Charge Rule during the current public health crisis, and gives us the opportunity to make our case in a federal court in New York. We will soon file an emergency motion in the Southern District of New York because our country cannot afford to wait. The Public Charge Rule threatens the public’s health, our economy, and all New Yorkers — citizens and non-citizens alike. Every person who doesn’t get the health coverage they need today risks infecting another person with the coronavirus tomorrow.

This “public charge” rule is one among many controversial immigration policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision follows after President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that halts green card issuance during the COVID-19 crisis.

For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.