Supreme Court To Consider Arizona’s Petition To Defend Rule Refusing Citizenship, Green Cards Based On Welfare Reliance

October 30, 2021

By Corinne Murdock |

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) accepted Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s petition to defend previous President Donald Trump’s updates to a rule limiting green cards and citizenship to those who haven’t and won’t become dependent on welfare programs. Brnovich announced this update in a press release Friday.

“When other federal officials won’t defend the law, I will,” asserted Brnovich. “The Public Charge Rule is a commonsense policy based on a real inconvenient truth. Overrunning our welfare programs right now would be like pulling back the last safety net for Americans who need it most.”

Congress first enacted the “Public Charge Rule” in 1882: a concept that officials could deny immigrants entrance, visas, and even citizenship if officials deemed they were likely to become a “public charge.” The definition of “public charge” varied over the years. In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defined “public charge” as illegal immigrants who received one year’s worth of welfare benefits in the aggregate within a three-year period. Under that definition, two benefits received in one month counted as two months.

According to the latest available data analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies, about 55 percent of noncitizens relied on welfare in 2018. Noncitizens in their study included both green card holders and illegal immigrants. While the law does prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving welfare benefits, noncitizens may receive benefits on behalf of any children they have born in the U.S.

In April, SCOTUS rejected a previous petition from 14 states attempting to revive Trump-era litigation that the Biden Administration halted. Texas led the charge on that petition. The states claimed that dropping the Trump rule would force them to provide millions of dollars of government benefits to illegal immigrants.

SCOTUS determined that states would have to work through lower courts before they’d take up the case, if at all.

Their recent acceptance means that Arizona and 12 other states – Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia – may be eligible to defend the rule even though the Biden Administration has decided against doing so.

SCOTUS will not be deciding on the legality of the rule, and oral arguments haven’t been scheduled.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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