Judge Blocks Trump’s Plan to Bar Immigrants Who Can’t Pay for Health Care
A federal judge on Saturday blocked the Trump administration from implementing a policy that would require immigrants to prove they have insurance or the financial resources for medical costs in order to obtain a visa, according to an official from a group battling the policy in court.
The ruling, by Judge Michael Simon of the Federal District Court in Portland, Ore., was the latest in a string of court decisions to derail administration initiatives that would limit the admission of certain legal immigrants into the United States.
Judge Simon issued a nationwide temporary restraining order preventing the government from carrying out a proclamation by President Trump that would have gone into effect on Sunday, said Belle Woods, a spokeswoman for one of the groups, the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Mr. Trump’s Oct. 4 proclamation ordered consular officers to bar immigrants who could not prove they had health insurance or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent residents of the United States.
The president had justified the policy on the grounds that immigrants were more likely to be uninsured, and that “costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services,” the measure said.
Legal immigrants are three times as likely as American citizens to be uninsured, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.
Lawyers from Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab and the American Immigration Lawyers Association argued that the policy was “plainly illegal” and that it would cause immediate and irreparable harm.
“This new requirement rewrites our immigration and health care laws,” the lawyers wrote in a motion seeking a temporary restraining order. They noted that the policy could effectively bar up to 375,000 “otherwise qualified immigrants each year.”
An official at the White House could not be immediately reached for comment.
The ruling on Saturday came on the heels of another immigration loss for the Trump administration.
Federal judges last month blocked the “public charge” rule, which would have denied green cards to people who use public benefits, such as food stamps and subsidized housing.
“We’re glad that the court understands the importance of preventing the health care ban from taking effect tonight, but this is just the first step,” Esther Sung, a senior litigator at the Justice Action Center, said on Saturday.
“The impact of this ban is just huge. Hundreds of thousands of people would be affected,” she said. “Two out of three intending immigrants every year might not be able to join their families. It’s outrageous that the Trump administration is trying to slip this by people without them noticing.”
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