Attorney General Bonta Issues Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision Dismissing Effort to Revive Litigation Over Trump-Era Public Charge Rule

Wednesday, June 15, 2022
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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss an Arizona-led effort to revive litigation over the now-defunct Trump-era “public charge” rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: 

“While the fight is never over, immigrant communities in California and across the nation should rest a little easier tonight,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The Trump-era public charge rule no longer exists. In court after court, we have prevailed against those who seek to tear us apart and rip away access to sorely-needed public programs. In California, we will not let up in our efforts to defend the rights of all of our residents.”

Following court decisions across the country blocking the Trump-era public charge rule, the federal government formally vacated it in March 2021. Subsequently, a coalition of states, led by Arizona, sought to intervene in the Ninth Circuit in an attempt to seek further review of the court’s decision affirming the preliminary injunctions against the rule after it had already been vacated. The Ninth Circuit denied that motion and the matter was then brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, which today dismissed the case as “improvidently granted.” That dismissal allows the Ninth Circuit's ruling denying intervention to stand. A separate motion involving Arizona and other states attempting to revive public charge litigation is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Longstanding guidance by the federal government has defined a “public charge” as a person who is primarily and permanently dependent on either public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutional long-term care at the government’s expense. Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, a noncitizen who is likely to become a public charge is generally inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident. The Trump Administration sought to radically expand the definition of a public charge to include the use of healthcare through federally-funded Medicaid, nutrition and food support through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Section 8 housing assistance.

Under the current administration, the federal government has proposed a new rule that is consistent with applicable law and will support state efforts to protect the health, safety, and well-being of immigrant families and all state residents.

A copy of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is available here.

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