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By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Farm workers picked up by border patrol (Image source:The U.S. National Archives @ Flickr Commons via Wikimedia Commons)
The Trump administration is at it again with rule changes designed to dramatically affect immigration in the United States. This time the White House issued a proclamation to deny visas to immigrants who don't have health care plans, those they feel "will financially burden" the system.
You name it, Donald Trump has done it to immigration laws. Many times his policies are challenged in court, and some of those have been reversed.
This most recent rule will take effect on November 3. Foreign nationals will need to prove they have insurance or have enough money to cover their own heatlh-care costs before they enter the United States.
Trump said he issued this proclamation to "protect the availability of health care benefits for Americans." and said "taxpayers bear substantial cost" in paying for the medical expenses of people who don't have health insurance. What he may be missing out on is that is the purpose of the Affordable Care Act.
"Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs," states the proclamation.
Once again, this is another policy that seems to be aimed at migrant families. Trump and White House aide Stephen Miller have been working on whittling down the numbers of migrant families who cross the border.
A previous rule, the new "public charge" rule, is set to go into effect on October 15. This will deny green cards and citizenship to poorer immigrants. With this new proclamation, if you are a poorer immigrant, you don't have much of a show at getting into this country and staying here.
And now it seems they won't be able to get a visa either. Migrants will need to prove they are covered by "approved health insurance," such as through a family or employment policy, within 30 days of entering the U.S., unless they have enough money to cover their "reasonably forseeable medical costs."
Trump invoked Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationalist Act which gives him authority to deny migrants entry who are ineligible because it "would be contrary to the national ineterest" and "detrimental to the interests of the United States."
This is the same legal authority he used when he instituted the 2017 travel ban that mostly affected visitors from Muslim-majority countries.
A former White House official in the Obama administration, Doug Rand, who worked on immigration policy, said this latest proclamation could very well affect the relatives of U.S. citizens who are waiting overseas for permission to come to the U.S. It includes parents, spouses, and siblings, though children are exempt.
It does not appear to affect immigrants arriving on work visas or those who are seeing asylum at the southern border, yet Rand still refers to it as a "gigantic, sweeping change to the legal immigration system."
"As a matter of policymaking, this is an incredibly flimsy document," Rand added. "We have no idea what the process was, and it just kind of happened at 7 o'clock on a Friday. Where did this come from? What was the process? Who was involved in this?"
Trump noted in the proclamation that "lawful immigrants are about three times more likely than United States citizens to lack health insurance," yet didn't provide a source for this statement.
Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study in 2017 that showed 1 in 4 "lawfully-present immigrants" didn't have health coverage, compared to less than 1 in 10 U.S. citizens.
Trump is requesting the secretary of state consult with the secretary of Health and Human Services, the secretary of Homeland Security, and heads of other agentices and submit a report on this proclamation six months ater it goes into effect.
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