FIRST ON FOX: A coalition of Republican states led by Arizona is urging the Supreme Court to intervene in the legal battle over a Trump-era policy that restricted immigrants who are deemed reliant on welfare from receiving green cards -- a policy the Biden administration has since dropped.
The "public charge" rule was introduced in 2019 and expanded the definition of "public charge" as an immigrant who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period. Whether an immigrant would be a "public charge" would be considered when they applied for permanent residency in the U.S.
Critics called the rule discriminatory and alleged that it would stop needy immigrants from claiming the benefits they need. The rule was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, the Biden administration said it would not seek to defend the rule in court.
Continuing to defend the rule "is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
"The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation's values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in March.
This led a coalition of 11 states to intervene, and they are now petitioning the Supreme Court to accept review of the case and have the case heard in full. With a conservative majority on the court, they are likely to feel like the rule has a shot of being upheld.
"Without any prior warning, the [Biden administration] sprung an unprecedented, coordinated, and multi-court gambit," the petition says. "Through it, they attempted to execute simultaneous, strategic surrenders in all pending appeals involving the Rule."
Joining Arizona in the suit are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.
"The Public Charge Rule is a commonsense immigration policy that ensures people seeking green cards or American citizenship are able to work and financially support themselves," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. "If we fail to enforce this rule, which has existed in some form for over 100 years, our emergency assistance programs may no longer be there when Americans need them most."
Brnovich’s office said the validity of the rule should be decided on legal merits. The state has argued that barring welfare-reliant migrants from claiming welfare will save states more than $1 billion a year in welfare payments.
"In particular, the States have important interests in conserving their Medicaid and related social welfare budgets," the petition says. "Providing for the healthcare needs of economically disadvantaged individuals represents a substantial portion of the States’ budgets."
The case is one of a number of challenges launched by Republican attorneys general in recent months when it comes to immigration. While this case deals specifically with legal immigration, a number of others have sought to overturn Biden policies on issues like Immigration and Customs Enforcement priorities and the Remain-in-Mexico policy.