Court blocks immigration health insurance rule


A district judge has temporarily blocked an order by President Trump that would make having health insurance or the ability to pay for medical care a requirement for immigrants seeking U.S. visas.

President Donald J. Trump Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

President Donald J. Trump

There are serious questions about whether President Trump’s immigration rule was arbitrary and capricious and thus, a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, Judge Michael H. Simon of the U.S. District Court of the District of Oregon wrote in a Nov. 2, 2019, decision.

Further, the plaintiffs had demonstrated they were likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of temporary relief, that the balance of hardships tipped sharply toward the plaintiffs, and that temporary relief was in the public interest, Judge Simon wrote in his 18-page order. The new requirement, announced in a proclamation on Oct. 4., was scheduled to take effect on Nov. 3.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the administration strongly disagreed with the district court’s decision to impose the nationwide injunction against the policy without even affording the government an opportunity to provide a written defense.

“It is wrong and unfair for a single district court judge to thwart the policies that the President determined would best protect the United States health care system – and for the United States taxpayers to suffer the grave consequences of the immense strain inflicted on the health care system from subsidizing uncompensated care for those seeking admission,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “The administration looks forward to the opportunity to make its defense in court, and it will continue to vigorously defend the President’s policies to protect the interests of the American people.”

Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, said he applauded the court’s ruling for protecting countless families.

“Thousands across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today because the court recognized the urgent and irreparable harm that would have been inflicted in the absence of a [temporary retraining order],” Mr. Bless said in a statement. “This proclamation would permanently separate families and damage employers; it is a clear violation of the constitution. The president simply does not have the authority to rewrite the law by proclamation.”

The Oct. 4 proclamation calls on visa applicants to demonstrate to immigration authorities that they can obtain coverage by an approved health insurer within 30 days of entering the United States or show evidence they possess the financial resources to pay for foreseeable medical costs. Approved coverage would include, but not be limited to, an employer-sponsored plan, an unsubsidized health plan offered in the individual market, a family member’s plan, or a visitor health insurance with at least 364 days of coverage. President Trump said that the restriction would protect Americans from bearing the burden of uncompensated health care costs generated by immigrants.

The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates the new requirement may restrict up to 375,000 prospective legal immigrants from moving to the United States annually.

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