As Supreme Court Lifts Injunction, Bishops Oppose ‘Public Charge’ Rule Change

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have spoken out against a Supreme Court decision permitting a new “public charge” rule to go into effect. A statement released Wednesday said the new rule limits access to public benefits for poor immigrants and is antithetical to Catholic teachings to love and serve the needy.

On Jan. 28, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote to allow the Trump administration’s “public charge” to go into effect, even as various lawsuits over the legality of the rule are still being decided. The decision overturned a nation-wide injunction by a federal court in New York which is hearing several consolidated suits against the change.

In August 2019, the Trump administration announced changes to how a person is determined to be a “public charge,” someone who is primarily dependent on government assistance. An immigrant who is found to be a public charge can be denied permanent residency.

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the Administration to move forward with implementing its new changes to the ‘public charge’ while lawsuits are still pending is very concerning, as it will have an immediate and negative impact upon immigrant and newcomer families,” said a statement signed by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop of Washington.

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