Will Time be on Trump’s Side?

Press Releases

January 23, 2020

Updated: Jan 24

IRLI argues Supreme Court should allow public charge rule to go in effect

WASHINGTON – This week the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the government’s application for a suspension of two injunctions a federal district court has issued blocking implementation of the Trump administration’s new public charge rule nationwide. The rule prevents aliens from becoming lawful permanent residents if they are likely to receive public benefits for their support.

Across the country, a number of radical federal district courts have enjoined the public charge rule. All of these injunctions have been stayed, or suspended, by federal appeals courts – except for two issued by the same federal judge in the Southern District of New York in related cases. Thus, if the Supreme Court grants the requested stay, the public charge rule will go into effect as the cases against it wind their way through the courts.

In its brief, IRLI argues at length that a stay is justified because the plaintiffs are very unlikely to succeed on the merits of their challenge. Trump’s public charge rule is an eminently reasonable interpretation of statutory language, and was the standard view before 1999, when officials in the Clinton administration abruptly narrowed the meaning of “public charge” to allow likely recipients of non-cash benefits such as food stamps to become lawful permanent residents. No doubt seeing it was on shaky legal ground in doing so, however, the Clinton administration never published a final rule narrowing public charge, but only issued field guidance to officials.

As IRLI argues in its brief, the Trump administration has issued a final rule, one that is far more reasonable than the Clinton field guidance. And, contrary to the district court’s opinion, Trump’s rule should not be judged in light of that field guidance, which never even had the force of law.

“Once again, we are forced to go to the Supreme Court on an emergency basis to prevent a single district court judge from imposing his views on the entire nation and frustrating, by greatly delaying, the policy goals of our elected president,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “It is Trump who should have time on his side here, because it is so clear that the cases against the public charge rule are meritless, and he will win in the end. We hope the Supreme Court will not countenance this latest effort to delay immigration policies that activists may not like, but that are the product of the political process in our representative democracy.”

The cases are DHS v. State of New York and DHS v. Make the Road New York, No. 19A785 (Supreme Court).

For additional information, contact:

Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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