Biden administration will not defend Trump’s ‘public charge’ rule

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Trump-era policy made immigrants who receive wide range of public benefits ineligible for legal status in the US.

The Biden administration has announced it will not defend a hardline Trump-era policy that made immigrants who receive various public benefits in the United States, including food stamps, ineligible for permanent legal status.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it decided that continuing to defend the so-called public charge rule “is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources”.

“Consistent with that decision, the Department of Justice will no longer pursue appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining enforcement of the 2019 Rule,” it said.

The US Supreme Court also said on Tuesday that it would not weigh in on the legality of a controversial policy after an agreement was reached between President Joe Biden’s administration and states and groups challenging it.

The top court in January had sided with former US President Donald Trump on the rule but said last month that it would challenge it. 

US federal law for decades has required those seeking permanent residency or legal status to prove they will not become a “public charge” – or dependent on the state.

Trump, who pursued a hardline anti-immigration policy, replaced guidelines that had been in place since 1999 to expand the definition of what constituted a public charge.

Under the stricter restrictions, immigrants who had received non-cash benefits including Medicaid, subsidised health insurance or food stamps, could be denied a green card.

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