Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Argues at Supreme Court Defending Public Charge Rule Regarding Green Cards and Welfare

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich led a lawsuit with 12 other attorneys general against the Biden administration for dropping the Public Charge rule implemented in 2019 under the Trump administration, which ended up at the Supreme Court on Wednesday for oral arguments. The Public Charge rule made noncitizens ineligible for green cards if they are receiving public assistance, which was U.S. policy for over 100 years.

“The United States is indeed the land of the free and of industrious immigrants, but it is not a welfare state,” said Brnovich in a statement about Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco. “The Biden administration has once again caved to far-left groups attempting to erase a common-sense law that we’ve had in various forms for more than 100 years.”

The rule was issued by the Department of Homeland Security and clarified that anyone who received certain government benefits (like Medicaid or food stamps) for more than 12 months over a three-year period, aka a Public Charge, was ineligible for a green card. Refugees and asylees are exempt from the Public Charge requirement. The Biden administration wants to replace it with a rule that looks the other way.

Brnovich said, “President Biden strategically abandoned the defense of the rule when he stepped into office, cutting a back-room deal with left-wing challengers.” Those challengers strategically brought a lawsuit against the rule in front of a Democratic-appointed judge in Illinois, who imposed an injunction against the rule nationwide. The Biden administration declined to challenge that ruling and defend the rule.

Brnovich is hoping the court rules that states whose interests are affected by a rule can seek to intervene in federal courts when the Executive Branch stops defending a rule, as happened here. He argued that the rule would save the states over a billion dollars. He pleaded, “At least allow the states to step in and defend a federal law when the federal government wouldn’t.”

Some justices appeared inclined to agree with Brnovich, like Justice Samuel Alito. He sarcastically attacked the Biden administration for trying to avoid allowing the Supreme Court to hear the issue. “I congratulate whoever it is in the Justice Department or the executive branch who devised this strategy and was able to implement it with military precision to effect the removal of the issue from our docket and to sidestep notice-and-comment rulemaking, but all of that took place. I’m not aware of a precedent where an incoming administration has done anything quite like this.”

He demanded to know of the Justice Department lawyers why the states shouldn’t be allowed to intervene. “Why would it be inequitable to allow intervention, or, to put it the other way, why doesn’t equity argue in favor of allowing intervention?”

Some of the liberal justices took the position that when a new administration takes over the White House, they are going to change policy. However, liberal Justice Elena Kagan questioned whether the Biden administration had erred by maneuvering to quickly jettison the Trump-era rule rather than going through a longer process.

A few of the justices questioned why Arizona was leading the lawsuit, considering the case originated in California and Washington. “I’ve seen how Los Angeles has spread, but I don’t think it’s yet spread to Arizona,” joked Justice Stephen Breyer, who recently announced his plans to retire from the court.

Brnovich has taken the lead on multiple lawsuits against the Biden administration and led amicus curiae briefs on others. This isn’t the first time he’s taken the lead on a case originating in another state. He led a coalition of eight other attorneys general in an amicus curiae brief at the Supreme Court regarding North Carolina’s voter ID law.

Illegal immigration is soaring, with the Border Patrol report encountering a record high number of migrants crossing the border. There were 153,941 accosted, the highest number ever intercepted in January alone. Brnovich recently declared that Arizona has an invasion on its border, which Rob Natelson, the Independence Institute’s senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence, confirmed to the Arizona Sun Times.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]



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