Posted on January 4, 2021

Trump Can Bar Immigrants Who Can’t Afford Health Insurance, Court Rules

Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, December 31, 2020

President Trump has the power to to bar immigrants from the U.S. who cannot afford private health insurance, a ban that would affect as many as 375,000 people a year, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Trump has already denied legal status and work permits to immigrants who accept public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid. Thursday’s court ruling involved his October 2019 proclamation denying visas to immigrants who did not have health insurance and could not show that they would obtain it within 30 days of entering the country.

Immigrants could receive Medicare and be allowed to remain, but those who planned to obtain coverage under the low-income Medicaid program or the government-subsidized Affordable Care Act would not be eligible. Advocates for immigrants say Trump’s proclamation would bar entry to nearly two-thirds of all otherwise legal migrants, those who obtain their entry visas from employers, U.S. relatives or an annual lottery.

The ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, if it becomes final, would allow Trump’s order to take effect for the first time. But attorney Esther Sung of the Justice Action Center, one of the legal organizations challenging the policy, said that under the court’s standard timetable, the ruling will not be binding for 52 days. That would be well past President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Biden has promised to undo his predecessor’s anti-immigration policies as soon as possible.

The ruling “makes clear that the Biden administration must move swiftly to rescind all of President Trump’s xenophobic presidential proclamations, including this health care ban,” Sung said. {snip}


Federal law allows the president to suspend entry for any group of noncitizens whose presence “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” Judge Daniel Collins noted in the majority opinion. {snip}