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US judge blocks Trump's health insurance visa restriction

November 3, 2019

The White House has suffered a setback in its latest attempt at a hard-line immigration stance. The court ruled that the proposed legislation would cause "irreparable harm."

USA, Donald Trump
Image: AP Photo/E. Vucci

A judge in the United States on Saturday temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's efforts to insist on immigrants having health insurance, or the resources to pay for medical care, before they can get visas.

The rule was due to go into effect as of November 3, but Federal Judge Michael Simon in Portland, Oregon, granted a 28-day restraining order on the rule.

Simon said the possible suffering to would-be incomers and their families prevented him from approving it.

"Facing a likely risk of being separated from their family members and a delay in obtaining a visa to which family members would otherwise be entitled is irreparable harm," Simon wrote in a statement that was 18 pages long.

Saturday's decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by seven US citizens and an advocacy organization, arguing it "rewrites our immigration and healthcare laws by Presidential fiat."

"We're very grateful that the court recognized the need to block the health care ban immediately," Justice Action Center senior litigator Esther Sung said.

Read more: Indians risking their lives to enter US via Mexico

Sung, who acted on behalf of the plaintiffs, added: "The ban would separate families and cut two-thirds of green-card-based immigration starting tonight, were the ban not stopped."

The Trump administration wanted the new rule in order to stop taxpayers from bearing the "substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare."

However, health care policy specialists stated immigrants use the system far less frequently than US citizens.

In addition, according to a study carried out by Leighton Ku, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University, newcomers to the US who arrive without insurance were responsible for less than one-tenth of 1% of medical expenditures in 2017.

jsi/kl (AP, Reuters)

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