Sun | Dec 15, 2019

US sued over health insurance rule for immigrant families

Published:Thursday | October 31, 2019 | 10:50 AM
President Donald Trump speaks during a Medal of Honor Ceremony for US Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams, currently assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A lawsuit Wednesday accused the Trump administration of preventing Americans from bringing their foreign spouses and parents to live with them in the United States by requiring those immigrants to prove they can afford health care before they get visas.

Seven US citizens and a nonprofit organisation filed the federal lawsuit in Portland, Oregon, over the rule that’s set to take effect Sunday.

It applies to people seeking immigrant visas from abroad, not those already in the country, and doesn’t affect asylum seekers, refugees or children.

“Congress makes laws, the president executes them. This is an egregious attempt to supercede and overturn congressional will, not only in the immigration realm but in the health care realm,” said Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association who helped file the case.

Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The rule is the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit immigrant access to public programs while trying to move the country away from a family-based immigration system and into a merit-based system.

Earlier this year, the administration made sweeping changes to regulations that would deny green cards to immigrants who use some forms of public assistance, but the courts have blocked that measure.

Under the government’s visa rule, the required insurance can be bought individually or provided by an employer and it can be short-term coverage or catastrophic.

Medicaid doesn’t count, and an immigrant can’t get a visa if using the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies when buying insurance.

The federal government pays for those subsidies.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status and to block the rule from taking effect.

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