Supreme Court Lifts Block of Immigration ‘Wealth Test’ Rule

(CN) — In a 5-4 ruling released Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to allow a new “wealth test” rule that will make it more difficult for immigrants to receive green cards if they rely on public benefits such as food stamps.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to lift an injunction by a federal judge in New York that blocked the rule from taking effect nationwide, except for Illinois where a separate order blocked the rule from being implemented.

The Supreme Court in Washington at sunset. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Friday’s ruling negates that separate order. Meanwhile, litigation in the lower courts will continue as the new rule takes effect on Monday.

The ruling is a victory for the Trump administration, which has sought to limit the amount of immigrants allowed into the U.S. The new rule makes it easier for immigration officials to reject visa and green card applicants for reasons such as low income or little education and those who have used public benefits in the past.

When the rule was announced last August, then-acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli defended the change, citing a revised version of the poem found on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” he said during a CNN interview in August.

Just as in last month’s ruling, the decision was split between conservative and liberal justices.

“It is hard to say what is more troubling: that the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the court would grant it,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.

In last month’s ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that there were too many injunctions nationwide.

“As the brief and furious history of the regulation before us illustrates, the routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable, sowing chaos for litigants, the government, courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions,” Gorsuch wrote.

The new rule also takes into consideration whether applicants are unemployed, fluent in English or without a high school diploma. Immigration advocates say that the policy punishes immigrants who might not otherwise qualify to enter the country legally.

After the announcement of the rule, several states filed lawsuits claiming that it would shift the burden of costs to states rather than the federal government.

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