Attorney General Mark Brnovich Defends Public Charge Rule at U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Attorney General Mark Brnovich led a coalition of 13 states to defend the Public Charge Rule, a federal immigration policy that ensures noncitizens can financially support themselves to become U.S. citizens or obtain green cards. The states are asking the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the policy after the Biden Administration abandoned defense of the rule earlier this year.

"The Public Charge Rule is a commonsense immigration policy that ensures people seeking green cards or American citizenship are able to work and financially support themselves," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "If we fail to enforce this rule, which has existed in some form for over 100 years, our emergency assistance programs may no longer be there when Americans need them most."

Arizona and the other states are also asking SCOTUS to grant review of a Ninth Circuit decision that invalidated the Public Charge Rule. Previously, SCOTUS granted review of a case involving the same issues. But, after SCOTUS agreed to hear the case, the Biden Administration abruptly shifted course. Without any notice or warning—and breaking established norms—it sprung an unprecedented, coordinated, and multi-court gambit to dismiss all pending cases pursuant to a settlement. Attorney General Brnovich believes that the validity of the Public Charge Rule should be decided on its legal merits, not pervasive strategic surrenders by the Biden Administration.

For over a century, Congress has had a Public Charge requirement in one form or another. Under existing federal immigration law, noncitizens are not eligible to receive a green card if they are reliant upon government assistance, otherwise known as a "public charge." In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created a rule that expanded the definition of “public charges” to include anyone who received certain government benefits (like Medicaid or food stamps) for more than 12 months over a three-year period.

Arizona and the other states have a significant interest in upholding the Public Charge Rule because it reduces demand on already over-stretched government assistance programs. The federal government only pays a portion of the costs involved in many of the programs at issue, therefore increasing the strain on over-stretched state assistance programs. It is estimated the rule will save the states $1.01 billion annually in direct payments. For example:

  • In 2019 Arizona spent $3,059,000,000 on Medicaid benefits. Increasing the number of Medicaid participants would increase the State’s spending on Medicaid (the costs of which typically exceed State general fund growth) and would require the State to make budget adjustments elsewhere.
  • Arizona paid $85 million in maintenance-of-effort costs for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs in 2019. TANF resources are limited. In 2016, less than a quarter of eligible impoverished families received this assistance.
  • States incur administrative costs for each Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient. For FY 2016, Arizona paid $77,730,088 in administrative costs for administering SNAP. By admitting aliens who are unlikely to depend on this resource, the State will save money that would have otherwise gone to fund administrative costs for aliens who would depend on the program.

Arizona led a coalition of 13 states in March at the Ninth Circuit to intervene in the lawsuit but was denied.

Joining Arizona are attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

Copy of motion and petition.


Attorney General Brnovich is committed to doing everything to stop the border crisis and hold the federal government accountable.

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