The President issued an executive order last week Saturday, October 5, 2019 that would create an additional hurdle for immigrants with visa’s seeking to enter the U.S. The applicant must show that within 30 days of the alien’s entry into the United States they have health care or, unless the alien possesses the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs, they will not be allowed into the U.S. on a visa. The action is attempted through one of the President’s proclamations. The proclamation says Mr. Trump has the power to issue such an order under sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act. One of those sections says the President can suspend “the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States” whose presence “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The law was used by the President to impose a ban on immigration on countries that are predominantly Muslim nations. In his proclamation, the President said:

“Healthcare providers and taxpayers bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare. Hospitals and other providers often administer care to the uninsured without any hope of receiving reimbursement from them. 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. In total, uncompensated care costs — the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients — have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last ten years. These costs amount to approximately $7 million on average for each hospital in the United States, and can drive hospitals into insolvency. Beyond uncompensated care costs, the uninsured strain Federal and State government budgets through their reliance on publicly funded programs, which ultimately are financed by taxpayers…”

The irony of the President’s statement can’t be lost on those advocates who have fought for protecting the ACA and the insurance it now provides to more than 20 million Americans. A repeal of the ACA, even with a limited replacement plan, would be sure to drive up the number of uninsured citizens with the cost paid for “in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services…” as is always the case when people can’t get health insurance coverage.

The action builds on a range of immigration policies that have had a chilling effect not just on immigrant communities but anyone with an immigrant background who may be reluctant to reach out for needed health, human service, and law enforcement services. The range of restrictions includes repeal of DACA, expedited removals, requiring a new census question, and the recent raids in the state of Mississippi.