The Trump administration is allowed to implement a rule that makes it difficult for immigrants who use public benefits to gain legal status in the U.S., thanks to a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling Monday. It’s a blow to Seattle startup Boundless and more than 100 other companies that are fighting the policy.
The court lifted a nationwide injunction on the “public charge rule,” which allows immigration officials to consider a broader set of disqualifying factors when reviewing green card applications. The decision to lift the injunction is a victory for the federal government but lower courts are still considering challenges to the public charge rule.
The policy expands factors that immigration officials can consider when deciding whether an immigrant is likely to become a “public charge,” i.e. an expense to taxpayers. It raises the minimum income required to be eligible for a green card and allows the government to consider other factors like age and health.
More than 100 U.S. companies, including Microsoft, Reddit, Redfin, and Twitter, signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court not to strike down the injunction. The companies said making it more difficult for immigrants to gain legal status would hurt innovation and the economy. The brief was organized by Boundless, which provides software and resources to help foreign-born customers navigate the U.S. immigration system.
“Today’s ruling puts millions of families’ lives in limbo for months as the courts continue to review the policy,” said Boundless CEO Xiao Wang. “As an immigrant who came over for the pursuit of the American Dream, it’s deeply disappointing that only those with means will be welcomed to this country. I’m disappointed but we will continue to fight against this misguided policy and provide clarity to all immigrant families during this tumultuous time.”
In addition to organizing the amicus brief, Boundless launched a “Public Charge Estimator” to help immigrants determine how the new rule could affect them. The company criticized the Supreme Court decision in a blog post published Monday.
President Donald Trump introduced the public charge rule in 2019. The administration says the change is intended “to better ensure that aliens subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient, i.e., do not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities, as well as the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations.”
The Supreme Court’s decision Monday allows the Trump administration to enforce the public charge rule temporarily while lower appellate courts consider its legality.