Neil Gorsuch, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, left, and Brett Kavanaugh, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, attend the U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

Doug Mills | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Supreme Court said on Monday that it will allow the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule to take effect after the immigration policy had been blocked by lower courts. 

The 5-4 vote was divided along partisan lines, with the court’s four Democratic-appointees indicating that they would not have allowed the policy to be enforced. 

The rule will make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain permanent residency or citizenship if they have used public benefits, like food stamps. Civil rights groups criticized the rule, arguing that it penalized poor immigrants. 

District courts around the country had halted the 2019 rule from going into action, though the Trump administration was successful before two federal appeals courts, which would have allowed the policy to be enforced.

One nationwide injunction, issued by a district judge in New York and temporarily upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month, still remained in effect.

The top court on Monday froze that injunction, pending a final decision from the 2nd Circuit. The case could eventually make its way back to the Supreme Court. 

The challenge to the rule was led by the state of New York and immigrant aid groups. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, defended the rule. 

During a phone call with reporters, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting DHS secretary, said he was happy with the court’s decision. 

“The U.S. Supreme Court is fed up with the federal activist judges,” Cuccinelli said. 

The New York attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Read More