Anyone who cares about the continued existence of diverse, multi-racial immigration in the US as we have known it for the past half century should be alarmed over news that the highly politicized right wing Supreme Court may now be opening the door to permitting some states to bring a lawsuit to force the Biden administration to reinstate the Trump-Miller Public Charge rule. This rule had been advertised by its proponents as designed to prevent welfare recipients from receiving green cards. But this is already part of our immigration law, even without any new rules.

In reality, the Trump-Miller Public Charge rule was designed as a far ranging wealth test designed to delay and deny green cards and other benefits to immigrants who had never received any public assistance at all, but who in the almost unlimited discretion of an immigration examiner, might become "likely" to need public assistance in the future. Especially ,the new Public Charge rule was designed to discriminate against and violate the human rights of immigrants who are not highly educated and/or not fluent in English - especially immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America, rather than Europe.

As an attorney who had actual experience in dealing with the Trump-Miller Public Charge rule, and especially the now-revoked extraordinarily complex and invasive USCIS Form I-944 financial statement that was meant to carry out this rule, I can attest to the anxiety, discouragement, long delays and great difficulty that immigrants had had in complying with this rule. This included immigrants who had a solid record of employment and earnings and had never received any public assistance whatsoever.

But before looking into how the new Public Charge rule actually worked in practice, it is important to look at the motivation for this rule. What was going on in Stephen Miller's mind when he developed and proposed this rule (since no one would seriously assume that Trump had any real knowledge or understanding of the intricate and complex details)?

First, as background, it is important to understand that wealth, or lack of it, has a long history of being used as an excuse for excluding or deporting immigrants from unpopular ethnic or nationality groups in America. This goes all the way back to the anti-Irish movement of the mid-19th century.

See the book "Expelling the Poor" by CUNY professor Hidetaka Hirota, a leading authority on the history of Irish immigration in the US. In devising his new version of the rules enforcing the longstanding Public Charge grounds for immigration inadmissibility, Stephen Miller reached far back into this history of racial bigotry.

It is no secret that Miler was the driving force behind the new Public Charge rule ,which no only denied green cards to less affluent immigrants who had received any public benefits, but went far beyond that in imposing financial barriers to legal immigration. This enormous expansion of the meaning of Public Charge, which has been part of the immigration law for a very long time was also part of a wider assault on the human rights of nonwhite immigrants.

As Josh Leach of the Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee writes ()n March 3, 2020):

"Separating families and imposing a wealth test. What do these two policies have in common? Both cruelly and arbitrarily keep loved ones apart. Both target immigrants and people of color. And both are the brain child of White House Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller."

Federal appeals courts in New York and Illinois also agreed that the purpose of the Miller Public Charge rule was to discriminate.

https://nbcnews.com/latino/federal-appeals-court-upholds-bar-trump-s-public-charge-rule-n1112666

There can be no question that the fundamental purpose of the hugely expanded Trump-Miller Public Charge rule was to violate the internationally recognized human rights of immigrants to protection against racial discrimination.

https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/discrimination/pages/discrimination_migrants.aspx

To be continued in my next forthcoming comment on this topic.


Roger Algase
Attorney at Law'
Harvard College A,B.
Harvard Law Schoo
l LL.B