IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN No Visas For 500,000 Immigrants Who Can’t Pay For Healthcare

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IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN

No Visas For 500,000 Immigrants Who Can’t Pay For Healthcare

 

A CARIBBEAN TIMES Special Report

 

(BROOKLYN, New York): In a new salvo fired by the Trump Administration against legal immigration, a new and potentially steep requirement will deny applicants petitioning for visas entry into the United States. According to recent reports, the latest crackdown on legal immigration will give U.S. overseas counselor officers the power and authority to deny legal and legitimate visa applications to enter the United States if those immigrants are deemed to be unable to pay for health insurance or cover healthcare costs in the United States. The new requirement is set to go into effect November 3. 

President Trump recently signed the proclamation changing the immigration visa entry rules, and the White House is quoted as saying that the government will only accept immigrant visa petitions made abroad if the applicants demonstrate that they have the ability to secure health insurance within a month of their arrival in the U.S. If that’s not possible, then petitioners would have to prove they have the financial resources to pay “reasonably foreseeable medical costs” — a vague and unspecified requirement and standard that has not been clearly defined in the order.

“This is the kind of anti-immigrant, anti-people of color rules that are intended to keep out poor immigrants seeking to reunite with their families by setting the requirements for obtaining an entry visa not only unreasonable, but also saddling poorer immigrants with an onerous provision that only wealthier immigrants can meet,” said Haitian community leader and activist Mercedes Narcisse.

Justification for the order are claims by the Administration that U.S. hospitals and health care providers are not being reimbursed for treating those who are uninsured. “The costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services,” the Trump proclamation reads. 

However, this new requirement will not apply to people who already hold immigrant visas, asylum seekers, refugees, children of U.S. citizens living overseas, or holders of special visas for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who helped U.S. forces in those countries.    

“This administration is just fixated on the erroneous notion that immigrants are zapping taxpayer resources,” Doug Rand, a former White House official under President Obama, told CBS. “So, they are kind of looking under every rock they possible can for any way to exclude people who aren’t wealthy.” 

Rand also called the immigration rule change “very sweeping” in nature, arguing it would apply to many of the approximately 500,000 people who typically apply to immigrate to the U.S. every year. Other immigration experts also explained that the new requirement represents the latest effort in a larger campaign by the Trump Administration to completely overhaul and remake the United States legal immigration system. 

“The administration is on-the-record wanting to cut legal immigration, and particularly wanting to cut legal immigration of lower-skilled, lower-paid immigrants who are probably less likely to have health insurance coverage,” said Randy Capps, director of U.S. programs research at the Migration Policy Institute.

This new crackdown on legal immigration comes on the heels of the Administration’s legal setback in its effort to enact its public charge rule change. A federal court judge shot that down late last week much to the delight of pro-immigration activists and legal organizations. The Public Charge rule would make it easier for the government to deny Green Cards and temporary visas for legal immigrants who use public benefits like SNAP (food stamps), Section 8 Housing, and other similar programs and services.

The new health requirement rule – that’s bound to be challenged in the courts – will go much further than the public charge rule in terms of health-based restrictions on people seeking to come to the U.S. The Trump Administration is hoping to accomplish this by rolling out an abrupt executive order that will not be subject to feedback prior to its implementation — unlike the public charge rule. Moreover, the healthcare proclamation is vague and does not set out a clear and concrete path for visa petitioners to prove they will either obtain health insurance or cover all medical costs in the U.S. 

Published reports say that the order has instructed U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to establish “standards and procedures” for U.S. consular offices to determine whether applicants satisfy the new requirements. In other words, it’s now up to the state department to come up with the rules, procedures and other processes to comply with the president’s executive proclamation.

In the wake of the new rule change immigration advocates were quick to denounce and condemn the announcement, claiming it represented yet another effort by the Trump administration hawks to penalize low-income immigrants. 

“The Trump administration has launched two more shameless attacks on low-income people and immigrants, by proposing dramatic cuts to life-saving food stamps and seeking to prevent immigrants lacking access to health insurance — of which the administration works constantly to deprive them —from entering the country on immigrant visas,” Javier Valdés, co-director of the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York, and city council member Carlos Menchaca said in a joint statement. 

Curiously, President Trump invoked the very same provision of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act that his administration used to announce the infamous travel ban against predominately Muslim countries in 2017, as well as a sweeping asylum restriction on migrants who crossed the border illegally between ports of entry that is currently held up in court.

What is a public charge?

The “public charge” standard was first codified into U.S. immigration law in 1882 — the same year the U.S. enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred the entry of Chinese laborers into America on the premise that immigration from China endangered “the good order of certain localities.” The term essentially means being a burden on society. It was also included in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which stipulated that those who were deemed a “public charge” would be subject to deportation or barred from entering the country.

In the 1990s, the Clinton administration issued guidance effectively saying that only cash benefits — like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — could be considered when determining whether an immigrant was a “public charge.”

 

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