Supreme Court allows rule to take effect that could reshape legal immigration

Last month, a 5-4 court greenlighted the so-called “public charge” rule across the country except for Illinois, because the state was governed by a separate judicial order. Now, while litigation continues, the rule will be in effect nationwide. US Citizenship and Immigration Services says it will implement the rule on Monday.

The court’s move is a win for the Trump administration. Solicitor General Noel Francisco had argued in part that the rule, unveiled last August, is necessary because “the availability of public benefits should not be an incentive for immigration to the United States.”

The public charge rule made national headlines last summer when then-acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, in his defense of the rule, revised the iconic poem on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, saying: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

Advocates and several states immediately opposed the rule, arguing that the changes would penalize immigrants who rely on temporary assistance from the government and impose costs on the states.

The rule will affect people who are trying to obtain lawful permanent status, otherwise known as a green card. To that end, the rule has the potential to reshape legal immigration by limiting access to green cards for lower-income immigrants.

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