Under a 2019 presidential proclamation, immigration authorities can deny entry to any immigrant who lacks health insurance or the ability to pay for medical bills. U.S. citizens fought the rule in court because it kept their relatives from coming to America. A district court judge had blocked the rule as probably illegal.

Now, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that President Trump does have the authority to issue such a proclamation. Legally, the court said, the president can issue immigration restrictions by proclamation as long as those restrictions do not conflict with established law.

Appellate cases are generally handled by three-judge panels. Two judges must agree to issue an opinion by the court. In this case, the third judge wrote a 15-page dissent.

U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima argued that the district court had been right to block the rule. The presidential proclamation, he wrote, overrides both the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) and the Affordable Care Act, which allows legal immigrants to buy subsidized health insurance through government exchanges.

The INA is our nation’s main immigration law. It comprehensively explains Congress’s intent about when immigrants should be barred from the U.S. because they may be a financial burden.

In general, it is the job of Congress to make policy. Courts interpret those policies. The president’s job is to enforce the policies that Congress makes. The only circumstances where the president is allowed to create policy is when he is exercising his authority in national security issues and international law.

Tashima pointed out that the proclamation “has no nexus to national security, addresses a purely domestic concern (uncompensated health care costs), lacks any conceivable temporal limit, and works a major overhaul of this nation’s immigration laws without the input of Congress — a sweeping and unprecedented exercise of unilateral Executive power.”

“it strains credulity,” he wrote, “to suggest that Congress intended to authorize the President to undermine its own policy judgments.”

The Rule Will Be Enforced For Now

If you are hoping to bring a family member to the U.S., you will now have to show that they can afford health insurance or cover their own medical costs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court could decide to overturn the policy. Or, president-elect Biden could rescind the proclamation when he takes office.

Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for help. Attorney Alison Yew is a board-certified specialist in immigration law and has years of experience helping people with family immigration.