Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a coalition of states Tuesday in asking the Supreme Court to revive a Trump administration policy that would penalize legal immigrants who end up using welfare programs.
The Biden administration has refused to defend the policy in court, in a move that would effectively kill it. But Mr. Paxton has asked for permission to step in and mount a defense of the policy before the justices.
He said the Trump administration checked all the procedural boxes in coming up with the new “Public Charge” rules that penalize would-be migrants for ending up on the public dole, and to allow the Biden team to scrap the rules through legal machinations would be “pernicious.”
“This is a shameless attempt to unravel common-sense immigration policies favored by a strong majority of Texans, and it cannot stand,” he said.
American law as far back as the late 1800s has required would-be legal immigrants to show self sufficiency, though the actual details of proving that fact have not always been scrupulously enforced.
The Trump administration put teeth into the requirement, expanding the number of welfare programs to be checked to see if someone is using them. A migrant’s use could then be used as a negative factor when Homeland Security weighs applications for permanent legal status.
Immigrant-rights groups argued the policy was cruel, and particularly during a pandemic was counterproductive because it discouraged accessing medical care.
Early studies did indicate a drop in welfare use during the Trump administration, though the actual tie to the policy was less clear.
Several courts ruled against the Trump administration, but the case was still winding its way through the system and the Supreme Court had been slated to hear arguments this spring. But the Biden administration asked those arguments be put off while it decided its legal strategy.
Now Mr. Paxton wants the case back before the justices with urgency, and wants them to let Texas and its fellow states mount the defense that the Biden team won’t.
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