Poor, uninsured immigrants will be denied visas to enter the United States starting next month, the White House announced Friday.
Donald Trump signed a proclamation declaring that starting Nov. 3, if an immigrant cannot prove they have their own health insurance or the money to purchase it, they will not be allowed to enter the U.S, according to the New York Times.
It’s the latest move by Trump to disrupt the U.S. immigration system, and could threaten the hopes of families trying to bring their spouses or parents to the United States, the Associated Press reports.
And being able to qualify for Medicaid or Obamacare for health insurance coverage won’t cut it, as AP explains:
The proclamation says immigrants will be barred from entering the country unless they are to be covered by health insurance within 30 days of entering or have enough financial resources to pay for any medical costs.
Medicaid doesn’t count. And an immigrant will not be able to obtain a visa if using the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies when buying insurance. Those subsidies are paid for by the federal government.
To justify its actions, the White House said in a statement, according to AP, “too many non-citizens were taking advantage of the country’s ‘generous public health programs,’ and said immigrants contribute to the problem of ‘uncompensated health care costs.’”
Team Trump apparently has been working on this change for months, and its announcement came as a “surprise,” according to the Times, which called it:
the latest step in a long effort by Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration adviser, and others in the administration, to limit what they consider the financial burdens of allowing immigrants into the United States.
After years of effort by Mr. Miller, the administration issued a regulation in August that would allow officials to deny permanent legal status to immigrants who are poor. The regulation, which imposes an aggressive wealth test on legal immigrants, has faced several legal challenges but will go into effect on Oct. 15 unless it is blocked by a court.
That policy, known as the “public charge” rule, says immigrants seeking to live permanently in the United States could be denied if officials deem it is likely they will be a burden on society by, for example, being unable to pay for health care or seeking food and housing assistance.
Immigration advocates were dismayed by Trump’s latest salvo.
“President Trump has failed to build a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigrants,” Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration expert at Cornell Law School, told the Times, “but he has effectively built an invisible wall to keep out legal immigrants.”
“This new attempt at an immigration ban is as shameless as it is stunning,” Doug Rand, a former Obama administration official who is the co-founder of Boundless Immigration, tweeted Friday, according to AP. “It will be chaotic to implement and guaranteed to separate U.S. citizens from their legal immigrant spouses and other close relatives.”