Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks Trump’s Health Care Rule For Immigrants

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Michael Simon, an Oregon federal judge, issued a temporary restraining order against the Trump administration’s health care requirement for immigrant applicants. 
  • President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation in October, calling on green card applicants to prove that they can obtain health insurance or prove that can pay for their own health care in order to be approved. 
  • Simon’s decision marks the latest ruling against the Trump administration’s immigration agenda at the hands of Obama-appointed judges. 

A federal judge has, at least temporarily, blocked the Trump administration from implementing a rule that would require immigrants prove that they have health insurance or can afford to pay for it.

Judge Michael Simon of the federal district court in Portland, Oregon, issued a nationwide temporary restraining order Saturday, barring President Donald Trump from implementing his health care requirement for foreign nationals applying for legal permanent status.

Trump issued a presidential proclamation in early October that called on immigrants applying for green cards to be able to prove that they can obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the U.S. or otherwise demonstrate that they can afford their own medical care. The order was intended to be the administration’s latest effort to bar migration from low-income aliens and further transition the government to a more merit-based immigration system.

“Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs,” the presidential proclamation read. “Continuing to allow entry into the United States of certain immigrants who lack health insurance or the demonstrated ability to pay for their healthcare would be detrimental to these interests.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for an address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Trump is expected to attend a fundraiser hosted by Chicago Cubs co-owner and Trump Victory Committee Finance Chairman Todd Ricketts at Trump Tower following the address. The visit is Trump's first official visit to the city since protesters forced him to cancel a 2016 campaign rally in the city. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for an address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention on Oct. 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The proclamation, which was supposed to go into effect Sunday, would have applied to visa applicants living abroad — not immigrants already living stateside. It also would not have affected refugees, asylum-seekers or children. Health care obtained under Obamacare does not reach the threshold of the order.

If implemented, the new policy is expected to dramatically cut the number of green card applications seen every year. A Migration Policy Institute study found that 57% of U.S. immigrants had private health insurance in 2017, according to The Associated Press, and 30% were covered under public health insurance.

Simon blocked the new policy from being implemented for 28 days in his ruling Saturday. The court is expected to hold its next hearing on Nov. 22.

Pro-migration groups celebrated the judge’s restraining order.

“Countless thousands across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today because the court recognized the urgent and irreparable harm that would have been inflicted” without the hold, Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said in a statement Saturday.

The ruling marked the latest courtroom setback for Trump’s immigration policy. The administration has been slapped with a number of losses at the hands of federal judges in recent time.

Three judges, for example, issued separate rulings against the White House’s immigration agenda — all in a single day in September. The judges, all of them appointed by former President Barack Obama, ruled against the administration’s expedited removal of illegal aliens, the reliance of certain databases for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests, and indefinite family detainment. Such rulings demonstrate the influence the U.S. court system has on presidential policymaking. (RELATED: Trump Taps Chad Wolf As DHS Acting Secretary)

Obama also appointed Simon and he began serving in his position in 2011. During his confirmation vote, Republican senators questioned his previous work as a volunteer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Simon is also married to Democratic Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

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