Blue State Coalition Asks Supreme Court To Put Hold On Public Charge Rule During Pandemic

(FreedomJournal.Org)- Some blue states have asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on a rule that currently denies green cards to immigrants who use government benefit programs. The coalition cites the coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind their request.
The coalition is being led by Letitia James, the attorney general for New York. She told the justices that what’s known as the Trump administration’s “public charge rule” poses a threat to safety and health because it deters immigrants from enrolling in the Medicaid program or seeking economic help.
In a motion filed with the Supreme Court, the coalition wrote:
“The rule makes it more likely that immigrants will suffer serious illness if infected and spread the virus inadvertently to others — risks that are heightened because immigrants make up a large proportion of the essential workers who continue to interact with the public. The rule also deters access to public benefits, including nutrition benefits, that are critical for both immigrants and the country as a whole to weather the economic crisis triggered by COVID-19.”
The federal government has already relaxed some of its public charge rule standards in response to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said in March that “publicly funded testing, treatment and preventative care related to coronavirus would not count against green card applicants.” This was done so people wouldn’t feel afraid to get the care they needed.
However, the coalition says this guidance isn’t clear enough for immigrants. Instead, they say a court order should make the guidance binding and not just a recommendation.
The coalition also asks the Supreme Court to re-examine its January decision in which it allowed the public charge rule to take effect while other legal challenges to it continue. In the motion, the coalition says the justices “may lift or modify a previously granted stay when new circumstances arise.”
They also say the Supreme Court could make the decision to allow a lower court to take another look at the case, putting a hold on enforcing the public charge rule in the meantime.
In its alert, the USCIS said:
“If the alien is prevented from working or attending school and must rely on public benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery phase, the alien can provide an explanation and relevant supporting documentation.”
But some in the medical field as well as groups fighting for immigrants’ rights don’t believe that’s enough. Malou Chavez, who runs the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project based in Seattle, said clients are still skeptical about applying for help from the government. In a statement, she said:
“Community members who may be in need of medical care are reluctant to seek care because their fear of a future case denial based on a public charge determination overcomes any current need.”
In addition to some states, immigrant rights groups in New York City, Vermont and Connecticut are supporting the coalition.