Lawsuit challenges White House policy requiring migrant health insurance

 Lawsuit challenges White House policy requiring migrant health insurance
© Getty images

Immigrant rights groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a new White House proclamation that would require people trying to enter the U.S. with certain visas to have health insurance or otherwise prove they can afford to pay for medical costs.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab and Sidley Austin, LLP filed the lawsuit in federal court in Oregon claiming that the policy could possibly block nearly two thirds of potential legal immigrants. 

"Suspending the entry of potentially two thirds of all legal immigrants to the United States, the Proclamation represents an unprecedented abuse of... power," the suit said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The legal filing also noted, "The Proclamation, like the recent Public Charge Rule, attempts to radically rewrite Congressional decision about which immigrants may enter the country based on wealth considerations."

AILA Federal Litigation Director Jesse Bless was abhorred by the policy, stating that the proclamation targeted immigrant families from specific countries of origin. 

“It is terrifying for U.S. citizens to think that they may never be able to reunite in person with their loved ones because of this proclamation. The proclamation represents the latest attempt to separate families and undermine due process solely on the basis of cultural and national origin-based bias. It’s as unAmerican as the public charge rule,” he said in a statement. 

The White House earlier this month issued the  seeking to halt entry for people pursuing visas who “will financially burden the United States healthcare system."

Under the policy, a migrant would be considered a “burden” if they are not covered by approved health insurance within 30 days of their arrival unless they have enough money to  "pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs."

"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," the proclamation said.

Immigrant rights groups pushed back on the proclamation at the time, arguing that it targeted low-income migrants. 

The move is the latest by the Trump administration to limit both legal and illegal immigration. 

The administration had previously attempted to create a “public charge” rule that would have made people using designated public benefits less likely to receive green cards. The rule was temporarily blocked this month by a federal judge.