Immigrant rights groups slam Trump policy requiring migrant health insurance

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Immigrant rights advocates decried a Trump administration proclamation that requires people seeking entry to the U.S. through certain visas to have health insurance or otherwise prove they can afford to pay for medical costs.

President Trump issued a proclamation on Friday night that said the administration would halt entry for immigrants who “financially burden the United States healthcare system” and argued it will save the country money.

The policy would require migrants to prove to a consular officer that they have met the requirements.{mosads}

The immigrant advocacy group United We Dream called it an “economic and racist attack.”

“Health insurance is hard enough for immigrants to access in this county; it’s hard enough for citizens too. Our healthcare system is shot and the Trump Administration knows this. This is another economic and racist attack on a community who deserves healthcare in the first place,” the group wrote. 

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in a tweet pointed out the high cost of detaining migrants.

“Tonight this government has 52,000+ people locked up in immigration detention centers. This can cost up to $775 a night per person,” RAICES wrote. “Yet these haters want you to believe immigrants are taking tax dollars. The only people taking tax dollars are private prisons/their donors.”

“This is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to restrict immigration to only the wealthy and use economic status to discriminate instead of trying to reunite families,” Karen Baynes-Dunning, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement, accusing the administration of “demonizing immigrants” instead of addressing broader issues with the U.S. immigration system.

Democratic lawmakers also condemned the proclamation. 

“President Trump is shamelessly targeting & punishing low-income immigrants & families. Trump’s order will separate U.S. citizens from their legal immigrant spouses & loved ones. Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda has no bounds & is hurting American families,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tweeted. 

“While Trump wants to use health care as a weapon to advance a racist and xenophobic agenda, we are going to guarantee health care to all and we’re going to win,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted.  

But the proclamation received some praise from the right.  

Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group tied to the right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation, released a statement calling the measure a “common-sense requirement.”

“President Trump is demonstrating once again that he is committed to making our immigration system work for all Americans. The executive action announced yesterday requiring immigrants to prove they can purchase health insurance or pay for their own health care just like Americans is a common-sense requirement that will protect both immigrants and Americans,” said the group’s executive director, Tim Chapman, in a statement. 

“As we welcome people to our country, it’s important they contribute to our nation, not deplete our resources,” he added. 

The White House said the proclamation will take effect Nov. 3. 

This is the latest effort by the Trump administration to lessen immigration. It has sought to limit migrants entering the country both legally and illegally.

The administration has similarly attempted to tie immigration to welfare through its “public charge” rule, which would make a person’s ability to receive a green card dependent on whether they used certain public assistance programs. Democrats have sought to block that rule.

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump immigrant rights Immigration RAICES Texas Southern Poverty Law Center SPLC United we Dream
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