Jan 27, 2020

Supreme Court allows Trump administration to penalize immigrants likely to use public benefits

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Trump administration can begin enforcing new rules that penalize immigrants who are likely to rely on certain public programs, such as food stamps or Medicaid.

Why it matters: This isn't a final ruling on the rules' legality — the 5-4 vote allows them to take effect while courts decide further — but it's a significant incremental victory for the White House. It'll quickly make it much harder for lower-income immigrants to get a green card, change their immigration status or become citizens.

Go deeper: Health of immigrants at risk in changes to public assistance policies

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The real impact of Trump's "public charge" immigration rule

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Effective Monday, the U.S. will begin blocking more foreigners from obtaining green cards and some visas based on the Trump administration's guesses about what kind of people they'll become and whether they may ever burden taxpayers.

Why it matters: The long-expected "public charge" rule effectively creates a wealth and health test, which could keep hundreds of thousands of people from making the U.S. their legal home.

Justice Sotomayor: Rushing Trump admin's legal challenges "comes at a cost"

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor at Tufts University on Sept. 12 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a dissenting opinion on Friday against the court's 5-4 vote to allow the Trump administration to penalize immigrants likely to rely on public programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

The big picture: The Trump administration has consistently tried to get controversial cases in front of the Supreme Court as quickly as possible, routinely asking the high court to step in before appeals courts have a chance to rule, Axios' Sam Baker reports. Sotomayor is apparently expressing her dissent at this new arrangement as well as the ruling itself.

Appeals court rules against Trump's Medicaid work requirements

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration violated federal law by allowing red states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid programs, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The court said the administration had not properly justified its decision, and that it was out of step with Medicaid's statutory goals.

What's next: The most likely next step is an appeal to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the administration has not won a single favorable ruling in lawsuits over what had once looked like one of its most significant health care policies.