IMPORTANT UPDATE — July 31, 2020: On July 29, 2020, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from continuing to enforce its health insurance mandate on certain green card applicants while the United States is under a national public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing the same reason, the judge also blocked the public charge rule used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to evaluate green card applications filed from within the United States, as well as the parallel policy of the U.S. Department of State for those filed from outside the United States.
The Trump administration announced on Friday that it will deny immigrant visas to applicants who are unable to prove that they will have health care or the means to pay for medical care when in the United States, in the government’s latest move to curb legal immigration.
In the late-night proclamation, which will go into effect Nov. 3, President Trump said consular officials will reject visa applications from immigrants abroad unless they can show they will be covered by “an approved health insurance” within 30 days of their arrival in the United States, or that they have “the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”
The president claimed that hospitals are losing millions of dollars each year in “unreimbursed services” from the uninsured, and that the government is “making the problem worse by admitting thousands of aliens who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their healthcare costs.“
“The 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,” he added.
Under the new proclamation, applicants will have to show that they have health insurance through a job or a family member, an unsubsidized individual plan, or a short-term policy. Medicaid or Affordable Care Act plan are not approved under the rule.
The new policy won’t affect immigrants who already have a valid visa, children of a U.S.citizen, asylum seekers, refugees, and Iraqi and Afghan nationals who risked their lives to help U.S. forces.
Doug Rand, a former Obama official and co-founder of Boundless, said the new policy would significantly impact the half a million people applying for immigrant visas every year from abroad, primarily the parents and spouses of U.S. citizens.
“This administration is just fixated on the erroneous notion that immigrants are zapping taxpayer resources,” Rand told CBS News. “So, they are looking under every rock they possibly can for any way to exclude people who aren’t wealthy.”
The new order comes on the heels of another controversial Trump administration policy — the public charge rule — which will make it much harder to immigrate legally to the United States. The rule will deny a green card or other visa to applicants based on a number of factors, including age, education level, family size, and current or prior use of public benefits, such as food stamps and Medicaid. The public charge rule is set to take effect on Oct. 15, unless the courts block it. Currently, more than a dozen states have filed lawsuits challenging the rule, which could delay the effective date.
Boundless CEO Xiao Wang said the latest proclamation points to yet another effort to block legal immigrants from entering the United States.
“The short time frame, combined with the lack of specificity in how the rule will be implemented, is another indication that this administration’s immigration policy is designed to add significant layers of confusion and sow fear in the immigrant community,” he said.
Boundless is constantly monitoring changes to the U.S. immigration system to help keep you informed. Stay up to date by following Boundless on Twitter or Facebook, so you can be alerted as soon as more official details come to light.