A federal judge in Oregon on Tuesday (November 26) halted the Trump administration’s plan to require immigrants to show proof of health insurance when applying for certain visas, The Hill reports.
United States District Court Judge Michael Simon released an order preventing the Department of State from implementing the visa rule, which was originally announced in October. This news comes after Judge Simon issued an initial temporary block on the visa proclamation on November 2, as previously reported in Colorlines. The proclamation applies to people living abroad who are looking for an immigrant visa. It doesn’t pertain to legal residents, asylum-seekers, refugees or children. And it targets poor immigrants who are either unable to afford health care, or don’t have employer-provided coverage.
The judge’s ban on the visa rule was determined after seven U.S. citizens filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, saying the mandate would “block nearly two-thirds of all prospective legal immigrants,” according to the previous story on Colorlines. “The suit also alleged that the rule would ‘greatly reduce or eliminate the number of immigrants who enter the United States with family sponsored visas.’”
Judge Simon announced in his ruling that requiring immigrants to “buy unsubsidized insurance would illegally hinder the ability of poorer immigrants from entering the country,” The Hill reports. “The proclamation is anticipated to affect approximately 60 percent of all immigrant visa applicants,” Simon wrote. “The president offers no national security or foreign relations justification for this sweeping change in immigration law.”
Simon also said the rule could separate more families due to delayed visas. According to The Hill, the judge wrote in his ruling, “These are immigrant applicants for whom it has already been determined it would be an ‘extreme hardship’ on family members for them to be separated.”
Trump’s visa rule was scheduled to go into effect on December 1 before Simon shot it down. The administration announced on Wednesday (November 27) that it intends to appeal the judge’s ruling. From White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham:
Yesterday, a single district court in Oregon has decided immigration policy for the nation. Congress plainly provided the president with broad authority to impose additional restrictions or limitations on the entry of aliens into the United States…. We look forward to defending the president’s lawful action.
Esther Sung, a senior litigator at Justice Action Center (JAC) and one of the litigators in this case, released a statement to The Hill about the significance of this outcome: “During this Thanksgiving week, we are so grateful for this court ruling that will keep families together and allow other families to reunite. This decision is an important check on the Trump administration’s effort to rewrite our nation’s immigration and health care laws in violation of the boundaries set out in the Constitution.”
“Today’s decision protects our nation’s immigrant families from suffering irreparable harm as a result of the president's harmful and unlawful proclamation,” Nadia Dahab, senior staff attorney at Innovation Law Lab and another litigator on the case, said in a statement to The Hill. “We are encouraged by the court’s decision to enforce the rule of law, which does not allow the president to rewrite our immigration laws this way.”