US Supreme Court to review Trump's 'public charge' immigration rule

   US immigration law has long required officials to exclude people likely to become a "public charge" from permanent residency.
US immigration law has long required officials to exclude people likely to become a "public charge" from permanent residency.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Supreme Court on Monday (Feb 22) agreed to examine the legality of one of former president Donald Trump's hard-line immigration rules that bars immigrants deemed likely to require government benefits from obtaining legal permanent residency.

US President Joe Biden, who has criticised Mr Trump's immigration approach, is widely expected to dump the so-called "public charge" rule.

The justices agreed to take up an appeal that the Trump administration had filed of a lower court ruling that found the rule likely violated federal immigration and administrative law by impermissibly expanding the definition of who counts as a "public charge" and greatly increasing the number of people who would be rejected for residency.

Mr Trump's hard-line stance towards legal and illegal immigration was a hallmark of his presidency. Primarily at issue in the litigation, filed in federal courts in New York and Illinois, is which immigrants would be eligible for legal permanent residency, known as a "green card".

US immigration law has long required officials to exclude people likely to become a "public charge" from permanent residency.

US guidelines in place for the past two decades had said immigrants likely to become primarily dependent on direct cash assistance or long-term institutionalisation, in a nursing home for example, at public expense would be barred.

Mr Trump's policy expanded the public charge bar to anyone deemed likely to receive a much wider range of public benefits for more than an aggregate of 12 months over any 36-month period, including the Medicaid healthcare programme, housing and food assistance.