US visa public charge rule suspension denied by Supreme Court

Sanwar Ali comment:

Governments around the World both left-wing and right-wing have to a great extent pursued similar policies. There has been action on an international and national scale to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

To have a successful policy you need to have migrants including illegal immigrants being part of the plan to keep coronavirus at bay.  Perhaps to a certain extent you need to provide free healthcare to all in the US, and make sure that there will not be any negative consequences for migrants in the US if they benefit from free healthcare and other State benefits.

A motion to suspend the Trump administration’s controversial public charge rule during coronavirus has been denied by the Supreme Court. The request, made on April 24, by New York and a number of other states was denied with no recorded disagreements, but indicated that states could ask District Courts for further relief.

Trump’s much criticised public charge rule makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain a permanent US visa, popularly known as a Green Card, should they access public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.

In February, a 5 to 4 vote saw the public charge rule upheld by the Supreme Court, despite a series of legal challenges. However, given the effect of coronavirus on the US population, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, state leaders had called for the public charge rule to be temporarily suspended.

The request was denied, leaving states to seek relief from US District Courts. New York Attorney General, Letitia James, said: “I will be asking the US District Court for the Southern District of New York to halt implementation of the rule.”

Immigrants fear accessing healthcare will affect US visa status

The states of Connecticut, New York and Vermont have urged justices to block the public charge rule across the US, arguing that amid efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, many immigrants fear accessing healthcare and public benefits because of repercussions affecting their US immigration status.

James said: “Healthcare and public benefits are essential tools for protecting the US public at large, helping to limit the spread and severity of coronavirus. Such narrow and temporary relief is warranted.”

A joint state petition highlights some of the effects that keeping the public charge rule in place is having. In the petition, James said: “A physician in Connecticut has spoken with patients who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, but they were afraid to obtain testing or treatment because of the public charge rule and fears over paying for treatment.

New York’s Attorney General argued that the unwillingness of many immigrants to seek assistance not only endangers themselves, but puts the wider US population at risk, too.

James said: “Immigrants who lack testing and treatment are more likely to spread the virus to other people inadvertently, contributing to the current exponential growth of infection rates and fatalities.”

Supreme Court further urged to reconsider suspension of rule

Meanwhile, a separate request made by a county in Illinois, further urged the Supreme Court to suspend the public charge rule.

However, court papers submitted by the Trump administration instructed justices to reject calls for the rule to be suspended in the New York case.

Government lawyers have argued that following the President’s decision to declare a state of emergency amid the spread of the virus, the administration has issued guidance that includes targeted steps to tackle the issue.

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