By Ann E. Marimow | Washington Post
August 6, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. CDT
A federal appeals court on Wednesday sided with the Trump administration’s effort to implement regulations that make it harder for immigrants to seek permanent residency in the United States if they have relied on public assistance programs.
The split ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reverses a lower-court injunction that had blocked the “public charge” rule from taking effect.
The decision comes one day after a different appeals court ruled against the administration in a similar challenge brought by immigrant groups that argue the rule discourages legal immigrants from using any public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance.
At issue are rules that establish new criteria for who can be considered dependent on the government for public assistance and therefore disqualified for green cards and a path to U.S. citizenship. Under the 2019 Department of Homeland Security policy, immigrants who are in the United States legally are considered “public charges” and ineligible if they use any benefits or are declared likely to someday rely on such assistance.
Despite the 4th Circuit’s decision Wednesday, the rule remains blocked for now because of a separate nationwide injunction issued by a New York judge in late July. The order bars the government from enforcing the rule for the duration of the national health emergency declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Maryland case was brought by the immigrant rights organization CASA de Maryland and two individuals who immigrated to the United States as children.
In a 2-to-1 ruling, the 4th Circuit called the rule “unquestionably lawful” and said the group lacked legal grounds to challenge it.
The majority said the court must defer to the executive when it comes to shaping federal immigration policy and criticized the nationwide scope of the preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm of Greenbelt, Md.