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The Supreme Court on Monday voted to allow the government to deny green cards to citizens who might need government assistance programs, according to multiple reports. The move led social media users to ask whose ancestors would have passed the so-called “wealth test.”
The court voted 5-4 with the conservatives leading the vote, lifting a former injunction on the program, which President Donald Trump’s administration said in August it would be reviewing, according to the New York Times. While previous provisions of the “public charge rule” was applicable only to those requiring “substantial and sustained long-term” government assistance, and was instrumental in green-card application being denied to less than 1% of applicants, the new measure will include even those who require occasional and/or minimal government assistance such as Medicaid and food stamps.
Such strict measures would disqualify many immigrants, and advocates such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) condemned the vote.
“The administration has weaponized [Department of Homeland Security] to make it harder for immigrants to find a home, build a family and participate in our society,” Sam Brooke, SPLC deputy legal director, said in a statement on Monday afternoon. “The rule is just the latest effort in the Trump administration’s relentless attack on nonwhite immigrants in our communities and at the border.”
Meanwhile, people took to Twitter to express their frustration with the ruling. Many shared their personal stories of how their own family wouldn’t qualify for the green card under the “wealth test” back in the day.
Sadly, i would not have been allowed to stay in America, prior to 1966, under this wealth test. https://t.co/0NVwkUchlW— Al Cardenas (@AlCardenasFL_DC) January 27, 2020
My father and my uncles would not have been able to fight for America if there was a wealth test when my grandfather immigrated here.— kim (@4_the_babies) January 27, 2020
A THREAD ABOUT SCOTUS' IMMIGRANT WEALTH TEST DECISION— Paola Mendoza (@paolamendoza) January 27, 2020
Being poor is not a crime.
When my family applied for our green cards we were poor. We had NOTHING. We only had each other and my mother’s determination.
We were given green cards regardless of our economic status.
A wealth test would have barred my father and my mother’s parents from becoming Americans. https://t.co/rzBiJsN35M— Macavi-Tara (@tara_atrandom) January 27, 2020
Contrary to the American Dream. An insult to the global community.— Mike Siegel (@SiegelForTexas) January 27, 2020
My own family has diverse roots, and almost every ancestor would be barred under this disgraceful wealth test.
Next Congress we must take decisive action to re-establish our commitment to equal opportunity. https://t.co/8nGrSZTYxX
My mother came here in her 20s and as a college student. Went to a community college, a University, then got her Masters. Now she works as a financial director and makes $100,000 a year. A wealth test upon entry, is BULLSHIT https://t.co/1lx3dPoafB— Snoa (@noacook) January 27, 2020
Many asked, with America being a land of immigrants, how many of those involved in the decision-making would likely be here if the wealth test was enforced upon their ancestors.
I wonder how the 5 Supreme Court judges' ancestors would have fared on the wealth test?— Cathy Coleman (@CathyJoeGPT) January 27, 2020
I bet my ancestors would have had little more than
the clothes on their backs and the will to live free.
Beginning the first of generations of hard working productive patriotic Americans -
My guess is that most of the people who support this policy would not be here had their grandparents and great-grandparents been faced with a wealth test upon entering this country. https://t.co/loa6XguvMx— Kevin M. Levin (@KevinLevin) January 27, 2020
fuck this administration and this pathetic supreme court. none of their relatives would have passed a wealth test ffs https://t.co/PRshMKYg8h— hobari⁷ 🐳💜🥺🌱 (@zeokiezeokie) January 27, 2020
Many also quoted the “The New Colossus” poem that’s etched on the Statue of Liberty. Lines of the poem—”Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—have operated as a tool for many advocates to remind the administration of American values.
So don’t give me your sick or your poor?— Just A Fan ⚾️⚽️🏊🏼 (@makboo168) January 27, 2020
It was either change the poem or this... pic.twitter.com/IzsUScaEKg— Wolverine Filled Moat Enthusiast (@rewegreatyet) January 27, 2020
I mean just rewrite the poem in the Statue of Liberty at this point...— Policy or Pitchforks 🌹 (@pinkladyf0xx) January 27, 2020
Mr President?.... “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" .... quote on the Statue of Liberty— Severiano del Castillo Galván (@SeverianoCG) January 27, 2020
In August, a Trump official said the “huddled masses” line in the poem was supposedly only about Europeans coming into America, which only lends to many people’s suspicions that the current public charge rule is specifically aimed at Black and brown communities.
We all know this wealth test is fundamentally about keeping Black and brown immigrants out of America. It's part of a broader white nationalist campaign to restrict all forms of immigration. And it's appalling. https://t.co/3AbCDVHZoJ— Leah Frances Greenberg (@Leahgreenb) January 27, 2020
This is not only a wealth test; it’s a disability test. An immigrant who is disabled is more likely to live in poverty and to need health care. https://t.co/Ulhkuyo44Q— Kathy Flaherty (@ConnConnection) January 27, 2020
This policy is also known as ppl Trump deems at risk of being black or brown.— MFD (@MideOFD) January 27, 2020
So if you're poor or middle class, but have a brilliant mind, you're not welcome.— Keela Young (@KeelaYoung1) January 27, 2020
But if you're rich and can get around paying taxes, come on in. @SCOTUS disappoints again.
Many outright said this is a result of electing Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination initially faced much scrutiny and backlash in 2018.
Losing the Supreme Court will haunt us for generations to come. 😞— Kursti 🌹 (@podoodle) January 27, 2020
Next is a wealth test for voters.— Neil Ryan (@neilryanphilly) January 27, 2020
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque