Supreme Court OKs green card restrictions for those needing aid

Brandon Paykamian • Jan 28, 2020 at 7:21 PM

The Supreme Court handed down a ruling Monday allowing President Donald Trump’s administration to implement new rules that could restrict resident status for immigrants using Medicaid, food stamps and other government programs.

The ruling will allow the administration to deny green cards to legal immigrants over their potential use of public benefits. The ruling has been met with support from much of the Republican Party and local conservative leaders.

“I think that we need to take care of our own first. We have been more than gracious to other countries for so, so long now that they began to just take advantage of our hospitality in America,” Third District State Republican Executive Committeewoman Anita Hodges Taylor said.

“I think that people on both sides are now realizing that our programs have been taken advantage of for so long, and sometimes you have to put a halt on something to get it straightened out.”

According to the Associated Press, federal courts in San Francisco and Richmond have overturned trial court rulings against the rules, and an injunction in Illinois that applies to that state remains in effect. As legal challenges continue, immigrants applying for permanent residency will have to show they wouldn’t be “public charges.” Under previous rules, people who used non-cash benefits were not considered public charges.

“Although there are still aspects of these rules that need to be addressed, overall, I believe this is a move in the right direction to help reform our immigration system,” U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said.

Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented to the ruling by the majority of the court’s justices. The decision has been met with opposition from the left and immigrant rights activists.

"This administration has routinely targeted those who are in need, from funding cuts to Social Security and Medicare, targeting those who receive food stamps and working to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Washington County Democratic Party Chairwoman Kate Craig said.

“This ruling is another symptom of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell working in tandem to stack the courts and push a radical agenda by financially harming those who are poverty-stricken and vulnerable."

Felipe Fiuza, director of the Language and Culture Resource Center at East Tennessee State University, said he believes “policies like this are dangerous.” Fiuza also opposed a 2017 directive stopping new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications.

“Who can foresee that someone might need government assistance in the future? Even if you have a good job, a career, you might get sick or depressed. In other words, life is unpredictable,” the native of Brazil said. “This has the potential to create an excuse for anyone to be denied a green card without any other explanation other than ‘you might need assistance in the future.’

“This policy might have an impact on the lives of all international students currently attending classes in the U.S. I talk from experience, since my family and I received government benefits while I was attending grad school, and I am thankful for that. Denying students in need, like I was, the help they desperately seek will have catastrophic results both in the short and long term.”

Northeast Tennessee Democratic Socialists of America activist Dennis Prater said the Trump administration continues to “drive wedges” between working-class Americans with restrictions such as these.

“Trump ignores the fact that working-class people pay more in taxes than massively profitable corporations like Amazon, which paid $0 in federal income tax in 2018 on over $11 billion in profit. The corporate elite would like us to ignore this, so Trump points the finger at immigrants trying to divide us,” he said. “If the rich paid their fair share, there would be more than enough to treat all of our communities humanely.

“We can help end the low-wage economy by supporting our immigrant neighbors so that they are in a better position to organize for higher wages,” he continued. “Trump's attacks on immigrants only further the race to the bottom for us all.”

According to federal statistics, nearly 545,000 people apply for green cards annually in the United States. More than half of those would be subject to review under new restrictions.

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