From November 3 onwards, foreign nationals will need to be capable of covering their healthcare expenses or have insurance to get their visas approved. The White House has issued this proclamation with the intent of keeping out immigrants who may be a financial burden on the healthcare system in the U.S.
However, this new policy will probably be challenged in court. President Trump is attempting to deliver on his promises with these immigration policies while the prospect of an impeachment inquiry as well as the hope of re-election, lay ahead of him.
According to him, “taxpayers bear substantial cost” due to the medical expenses of those who are without health insurance, and the policy aims to “protect the availability of health care benefits for Americans.”
The proclamation seems to be another attempt to curb family-based migration or chain migration. And Trump has stated that “immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.” His government has consistently developed policies that would give preference to skilled, wealthier immigrants rather than those who wish to migrate from Latin America or other poorer countries.
This proclamation will be preceded by the implementation from October 15 of another policy that will deny citizenship and green cards to legal immigrants who are likely to become dependent on government benefits.
Under the new policy, foreign nationals must either be financially strong enough to bear their own “reasonably foreseeable medical costs,” or show proof that they have health insurance cover to get their immigration visa.
President Trump has cited Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to back his proclamation. The provision authorizes the president to deny entry to any migrants if he deems it “detrimental to the interests of the United States” and “contrary to the national interest.”
This legal provision was also used by him in 2017 to justify the travel ban he placed on predominantly Muslim countries.
A former official from the Obama presidency, Doug Rand, speculates that the spouses, parents, and siblings of U.S. citizens, who are awaiting approval to travel to the U.S., will be most affected by this new immigration policy. Immigrants who are already residing in the United States will not be affected by the updated rules.
According to him, it is “a gigantic, sweeping change to the legal immigration system.” It will not be applicable to asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants who obtain work visas.
He was also of the view that “As a matter of policymaking, this is an incredibly flimsy document. We have no idea what the process was, and it just happened at 7 o’clock on a Friday. Where did this come from? What was the process? Who was involved in this?”
Trump does not provide any source of data when he claims in the proclamation that “lawful immigrants are about three times more likely than United States citizens to lack health insurance.”
Think tanks have debated the pros and cons of immigration at length. Some scholars choose to highlight their contribution through taxes, while others note the costs of educating and providing health care to immigrants.
A 2017 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that less than 1 in 10 U.S. citizens lacked health insurance, as opposed to an estimated 1 in 4 “lawfully present immigrants.” However, another report’s findings revealed that immigrants were generally beneficial for the U.S. economy.
Trump has ordered the heads of all relevant departments, including homeland security, health, and human services and the secretary of state, to provide a report after six months of having the proclamation in effect.