The court’s order did not list any justices as objecting and said it “does not preclude a filing in the district court” if the localities wanted to try that route.
The states, as well as New York City, said the coronavirus crisis was causing new concerns.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the largest public-health and economic disaster that the country has faced in at least a century,” New York Attorney General Letitia James told the court in a brief, referencing the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Even the administration, she wrote, does not dispute that “the Public Charge Rule is in fact deterring many immigrants and their family members from using any publicly funded healthcare or nutritional benefits, even if those individuals or benefits are not directly subject to the rule.”
The rules establish new criteria for who can be considered dependent on the U.S. government for benefits — “public charges,” in the words of the law — and thus ineligible for green cards and a path to U.S. citizenship. They were proposed to start in October and had been delayed by lower courts until the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead in January.
At the time, four justices wanted to leave the hold in place until the court could decide whether to review the decisions.
James and others asked the court to reconsider. But Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the court that the administration had already responded and its intervention was unnecessary.
On the same day President Trump declared a national emergency, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued guidance encouraging “all those, including aliens, with symptoms that resemble Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventive services.”
It said that “such treatment or preventive services will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis.”
The states were asking for unprecedented intervention, Francisco said.