NWA immigrant community affected by public charge ruling, attorney says


ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA) — The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to lift injunctions halting the Trump administration’s public charge rule will affect Northwest Arkansas’ immigrant community, an attorney said.

The public charge rule gives the government the right to reject potential permanent residents based on if they may use public assistance, like SNAP or housing vouchers.

“Now [immigrants are] gonna be scrutinized to see if their family makes enough money so that they can become a permanent resident,” said Aaron Cash, an immigration attorney in Rogers.

Immigrants applying for permanent residency must prove they won’t be on public assistance, Cash said, and that often means supplying evidence of a job offer.

“If it’s a client who’s overseas or in another country, that’s gonna be pretty hard to get them a job offer,” Cash said. “They can’t go in and meet with anybody.”

The new ruling will affect about half of Cash’s clients, he said, which he expects to be representative of the community in Northwest Arkansas. Many will be affected indirectly, as it’ll restrict family members from entering the country.

“A lot of these public benefits, you don’t even qualify to go on if you’re a permanent resident,” Cash said. “So, I don’t see how they can say you’re likely to go on them.”

Lower federal courts blocked the policy from being implemented. The Supreme Court hasn’t debated the merits of public charge but lifted the preliminary injunction placed on it in late 2019.

“It’s gotta go from the lower court to the court of appeals back to the Supreme Court, so it could take a couple years, maybe longer that this rule will be in place for sure,” Cash said.

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