Arizona AG prepares for Supreme Court battle with Biden administrator over Trump-era rule on immigrants, welfare

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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is preparing for next month’s Supreme Court arguments over a Trump-era policy on welfare-receiving immigrants that was dropped early last year by the Biden administration.

The Trump administration introduced the “public tax” rule in 2019 and sought to expand the definition of public tax, which restricted legal immigrants considered to be dependent on welfare from receiving a permanent residence permit or green card.


Specifically, it defined a public levy as an immigrant receiving one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period. The consideration would be made when a person on a temporary visa applied for a green card.

The Trump administration and Republican supporters said the rule protected taxpayers and prevented welfare programs from being stretched.

“The bottom line is that we know the rule of public fees is a sound immigration policy that ensures our public assistance programs are available when Americans need them most,” Brnovich told Fox News in an interview.

While much of the attention under the Trump administration was on illegal immigration, this was one of a series of measures the administration took on legal immigration, and it was just as controversial among immigrant advocates. Opponents of the rule said it was cruel and could prevent needy immigrants from getting the help they need, and warned that it could deter them from getting help for their children.

Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement last year that the rule “was not in line with our nation’s values.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorka's witnesses during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 16, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorka’s witnesses during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 16, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin)

“It punished those who access health services and other public services available to them,” he said.

The rule was blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals during the prior administration. At the time the Supreme Court agreed to take the case, the Biden administration was in office. When it opposed the rule, it dropped the defense.

Subsequently, 11 Republican states, led by Arizona, have now sought to challenge this move, accusing the administration of an “unprecedented, coordinated and multi-court game.”

This lawsuit is not just about politics, but the Biden administration’s abandonment of the defense. The GOP states themselves seek to defend the rule.

With Arizona in the suit are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. Briefs were filed in the case last month and oral arguments will be heard in February.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
(Fox News)


“I think this is a very important issue from a political perspective and also really important because we are basically doing the work that the Biden administration does not want,” Brnovich told Fox.

Should the states succeed, it is expected that the court will then look at the benefits of the policy itself. After winning an important election case in the Supreme Court in 2021 and with a Conservative majority in court, states are likely to be optimistic about their chances. But their claim was originally rejected of the court last year, and Brnovich does not make any predictions about the outcome.

“I learned a long time ago as a prosecutor not to predict what a court will do, but I think we are right in law and right in politics,” he said. “The public fee requirement is common sense policy that reflects that even though America is actually the land of opportunity and a land of immigrants, it is not a welfare state.”

It is the latest legal battle from conservative states against the Biden administration over immigration. The Biden administration was forced to drop a planned 100-day moratorium on immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) and reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) due to legal challenges.


Brnovich tells Fox News that he foresees a number of legal battles against administrative policy in a number of areas in the future.

“The Biden administration, or whoever is now speaking in the President’s earphone, is keen to socialize our economy, nationalize our choices, give the cartels control over our southern border, and as a result I and my colleagues are very busy, not only be the tip of the sword, but be the last line of defense when it comes to defending our freedoms and constitutional rights, “he said.

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