On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court announced a ruling that immigration officials will be able to disqualify individuals from receiving a green card if they are perceived as a “Public Charge” — those who spend up to 12 months over a three-year period on forms of public assistance.
The decision, issued in response to an emergency petition by the administration, lifts a nationwide injunction imposed by a district judge in New York. That means the government can begin applying the new standards, which critics say would place a burden on poor immigrants from non-English-speaking countries, while legal challenges continue in lower courts. The rules establish new criteria for who can be considered dependent on the U.S. government for benefits — “public charges,” in the words of the law — and thus ineligible for green cards and a path to U.S. citizenship.
Under the new policy, immigrants would be suspect if they are in the United States legally and use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — too often or are deemed likely to someday rely on them.
The new criteria provide “positive” and “negative” factors for immigration officials to weigh as they decide on green-card applications. Negative factors include if a person is unemployed, dropped out of high school or is not fluent in English.
Read the full Supreme Court announcement, here.