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Supreme Court justices grill defense teams from Arizona, San Francisco over Trump-era immigration rule

Arizona v. San Francisco centers on a Trump-era immigration rule that the Biden administration has stopped defending in the courts.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 2:37 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Arizona was front and center at the Supreme Court Wednesday in Arizona v. San Francisco. At the heart of the case, the state is defending a Trump-era immigration rule that would have made it harder for immigrants to become permanent residents in the U.S.

President Trump’s “public charge rule” said immigrants could not become citizens if they relied too heavily on government assistance. The rule was blocked in lower courts, but the Trump Justice Department was preparing to take the case to the Supreme Court.

When Trump left office, the Biden administration opposed the rule and stopped defending it in the courts. The state of Arizona and others tried to step in to continue defending the policy. The question the Supreme Court is considering is whether these states can pick up where the Trump team left off defending the rule.

“We believe this is a commonsense rule. We want to make sure that people who come to the United States are self-sufficient,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R-Ariz.).

Justices asked Brnovich why a new administration cannot change a previous administration’s rules. Brnovich argued the Biden Administration did not follow proper procedures when they stopped their defense, leaving no time for public notice and comment. Justices asked why he did not sue the administration for those actions rather than trying to intervene.

“It’s the rule and we want to be able to defend it. If the Biden administration won’t do its job, then allow the states to come in and defend that rule,” said Brnovich.

Justices grilled the other side about states being able to step in if they think an administration incorrectly drops a case.

“My guess is the court is not going to issue a broad ruling saying that in all instances, states or localities have the right or don’t have a right to intervene,” said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu.

Chiu said regardless of what happens in this case, the Trump-era rule is dead despite Arizona’s attempts to revive the policy.

“The idea that there’s a wealth test to becoming a U.S. citizen, from my perspective, is not American, and that is not at issue here,” said Chiu.

An opinion is expected to come from the court in the spring or early summer.

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