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PRESIDENT TRUMP SEEKS TO SUSPEND ENTRY OF IMMIGRANTS WHO WILL FINANCIALLY BURDEN THE US HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.

President Trump has blamed immigrants for many problems in the United States.  Therefore, it probably should come as no surprise that President Trump has now generally associated immigration with one of the key issues in the upcoming Presidential election – healthcare coverage.  President Trump now seeks to suspend the entry of immigrants who will financially burden the United States healthcare system.

On October 4, President Trump issued, “Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System” (the “Proclamation”).  The Proclamation states, “While our healthcare system grapples with the challenges caused by uncompensated care, the United States Government is making the problem worse by admitting thousands of aliens who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their healthcare costs.  Notably, data show that lawful immigrants are about three times more likely than United States citizens to lack health insurance. Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs. . . . NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a)) and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would, except as provided for in section 2 of this proclamation, be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and exceptions”.

Section 1 of the Proclamation states, “The entry into the United States as immigrants of aliens who will financially burden the United States healthcare system is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation.  An alien will financially burden the United States healthcare system unless the alien will be covered by approved health insurance . . . within 30 days of the alien’s entry into the United States, or unless the alien possesses the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs”.  For these purposes, “approved health insurance” can be purchased individually or be provided by an employer or family member, and it can be for catastrophic or short-term coverage. However, “approved health insurance” would not include health insurance paid with the use of Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies.  In addition, immigrants on Medicaid coverage would not qualify under the Proclamation. 

Among the exclusions from Section 1 of the Proclamation under Section 2 of the Proclamation are “any alien holding a valid immigrant visa issued before the effective date of this proclamation; . . . any alien who is the child of a United States citizen or who is seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an IR-2, IR-3, IR-4, IH-3, or IH-4 visa; . . . any alien under the age of 18, except for any alien accompanying a parent who is also immigrating to the United States and subject to this proclamation; . . . aliens entering the United States through means other than immigrant visas, including lawful permanent residents”.  In addition, the Proclamation will not affect any immigrant’s “eligibility for asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”. 

The Proclamation, which is scheduled to be effective on November 3, will almost certainly (like so many other of the Trump Administration’s anti-immigration policies) be challenged in litigation, as it has already received criticism.  Larry Levitt, of the Kaiser Family Foundation, described the Proclamation as a “classic catch-22” for low-income immigrants. Levitt stated, “They will need health insurance to be in the country legally [and] the only way they may be able to afford coverage is with ACA subsidies. . . . But, if they buy insurance with ACA subsidies, it won’t count as insurance under the proclamation”.

The potential for litigation to be filed against the Proclamation is another example of how a lawsuit may be the best strategy for an immigrant whose rights are being challenged by a policy of the Trump administration.  To prevail in any such lawsuit, it is essential that an immigrant hire an attorney, such as the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, which has had years of experience and success in immigration litigation. If you need assistance with any issue concerning the Proclamation or with any other immigration issue, please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at taher@kameli.com or 312-233-1000, for help.