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Requiring Health Care for Visas

Terry H. Schwadron

Oct. 6, 2019

A presidential proclamation that immigrants seeking a visa to enter the United States must be able to show proof that they can pay for medical insurance?

Why stop there? How about they must show they can pay for a year’s worth of Metro cards or tickets to Yankee Stadium or the entry fee to join Mar-o-Lago?

Again, why stop there, Mr. President. How about expelling the 20 million Americans who have no medical insurance, in large part because you have undercut supports to the Affordable Care Act. That should save some money, and export our most dependent citizens to other countries — socialist countries with any luck — a win all around for Trump-o-nomics and the isolated America First bastion this president seeks.

In relentless pursuit of his promised campaign to destroy immigration to the United States, we now have a new wealth test rule in place just with the stroke of a presidential pen. No Congress needed here.

Effective Nov. 3, consular offices around the world are instructed to deny visas to live in the United States to anyone unless they can show that they “will be covered by approved health insurance” or prove they have “the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”

Surely, that must be clear to you as a consular officer. It means you can enter this country to live only if you already have a job with a company that offers health insurance or will be covered by a relative’s insurance policy. They would have to show that they would have insurance within 30 days.

Consistent with other Trump declarations, there were no immediate plans to actually explain to consular officers how to make this work.

The proclamation is seen as aiming at those seeking to join families already in the United States, and does not affect refugees, asylum seekers or students — all of whom are being limited by separate proclamations and policy changes sought by the Trump administration.

The rationale here is that new arrivals have a higher percentage of people without health insurance than American citizens. Trump’s statement was that “immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care systems, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.”

I’m missing the parts that might address how immigrants would pay federal and state taxes for any work income, or that it might be a tad difficult to get a job from abroad without a visa. I’m missing the part of the argument here that U.S. companies are having trouble finding qualified job candidates in our low-unemployment economy and want an increase in immigration.

Instead, we’re slavishly tying U.S. policy to campaign promises aimed at barely disguised disgust for immigrants — unless they are coming in as high-paid engineers and other professionals.

Of course, the true author of the piece, again, is Stephen Miller, Trump’s immigration whisperer, who has pursued a long list of proposals to limit illegal and legal immigration. Like the others, this one will likely end up in court. The proclamation announced this week relies on the same immigration laws that he used in issuing a travel ban barring immigrants from Muslim countries — which was rejected and rewritten to make it pass legal muster.

I must add that were Trump’s total elimination of American health care laws were to succeed, it would put this proclamation at odds with what faces American citizens. In Trumpworld, Americans need not have health coverage that covers such things as pregnancy, preventive care or preexisting health conditions.

That is now reserved as a requrirement only for non-citizens.


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Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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