Immigration (210452)
Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons/Jeff Djevdet/

The lower courts blocked it, but President Donald Trump got his win from the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 vote, the court decided to lift the injunction blocking the immigrant “public charge” rule from taking effect. The rule, proposed by the Trump administration last summer, would make it harder for immigrants to become permanent American residents or obtain green cards if they’ve ever used, or are more likely to use, public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising, said that the Supreme Court’s decision was disappointing and allows Trump to create terror and hardship for immigrant families of color and immigrants without means.

“The public charge rule wages war on immigrants,” stated Rowe-Finkbeiner. “It weaponizes health, housing, nutrition and other essential assistance programs that allow hardworking moms and families to thrive. It forces families with children to choose between reuniting with loved ones and putting food on the table or roofs over their heads. This rule is a wealth test that will discriminate against low-income families and force them to decide between leaving their families behind or seeking the resources they need to stay healthy and thrive.”

Under current immigration law, immigrants are classified as a “public charge” if they’re dependent on the U.S. government for more than half of their income. Trump’s rule would expand the public charge definition to include anyone receiving food stamps, Medicaid and housing subsidies or who the government thinks will use them “likely at any time.” The new rule would affect 380,000 people.

The past several months have been a tug-of-war between Trump and the courts. District courts countrywide put the rule on hold, but federal appeals courts granted the administration the right to expand the public charge rule. Then a district judge in New York State issued a nationwide injunction that was upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the U.S. Supreme Court voted along party lines, clearing the way for the White House to pursue their goals.

Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU, said that this is a part of the White House’s reelection efforts through racism.

“The addition of six more countries to the Trump administration’s narrowly upheld travel/immigration ban suggests that the president is attempting to build his re-election on a platform of white nationalism,” said Bragg. “This blatantly racist and xenophobic ban will keep apart thousands of families and exclude thousands more from visiting this nation from four African and two Asian countries, including Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa and a major U.S. trading partner, and Myanmar, where a minority Muslim population has suffered mass murder and forced exile.”

Trump’s proposal for expansion of the public charge rule has already scared some immigrant families who have chosen to forego assistance even though they might need it. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about half of community health centers around the country have reported people canceling or declining their coverage out of fear of Trump’s public charge rule.

Council on American-Islamic Relations Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw said that the expansion of the public charge rule would put vulnerable people in an even more vulnerable position.

“The Supreme Court’s decision will further marginalize immigrant communities and will inevitably create a socioeconomic hierarchy in our immigration system,” said McCaw. “The Trump administration’s policy could quite literally kill people by making them too afraid to seek life-saving medical care, and the Supreme Court seems to agree such a cruel system is acceptable.”

As for Bragg, he believes that it’s up to empathetic politicians and an empathetic public to push back against Trump’s agenda.

“We call on the courts, Congress and the American people to stand up and demand equal treatment of all immigrants for the sake of human dignity and our nation’s soul,” said Bragg.