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Supreme Court Allows Trump Admin to Implement ‘Public Charge’ Test for Immigrants

A mock-up of banned travellers’ passport is placed outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, DC, U.S., April 25, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday to approve the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule for new immigrants.

The justices approved the rule by a vote of 5-4 along ideological lines.

“Public charge” has in recent years been defined as a person dependent on cash assistance programs. The Trump administration updated the definition in August 2019 to include people likely to require non-cash government benefits, and sought to implement a policy limiting the number of new immigrants who would require government assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid.

Lower courts have repeatedly blocked the new policy from going into effect. In early January the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals implemented a nationwide injunction against the policy, which Monday’s Supreme Court decision overrules.

“Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle in America,” then-acting director of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said at a 2019 press conference regarding the new policy. “The virtues of perseverance, hard work, and self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States.”

President Trump has made immigration reform a centerpiece of his agenda, seeking to slow legal immigration and halt illegal immigration to the U.S. In one of the latest developments, on Thursday the State Department announced new guidelines aimed at cracking down on “birth tourism.”

Under the Constitution, babies born in the U.S. receive citizenship even if the parents are foreign citizens visiting the country on a tourist visa. Around 10,000 babies were born to parents of foreign citizens in the U.S. as of 2017, the latest year for which data is available.

Trump has also made construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico a priority, diverting funds from the Pentagon to finance the project.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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