Ninth Circuit panel rules Trump has authority to require new immigrants to obtain health insurance

In October 2019, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation order that required immigrants seeking entry into the U.S. to prove that they could acquire acceptable health insurance coverage within 30 days or pay for any reasonable health care costs in order to be eligible.

At the time, that move was blocked by a district court and upheld by an appeals panel. Now, however, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel has lifted the nationwide injunction, allowing the new rule requiring health insurance coverage for incoming migrants to go into effect, Breitbart reported.

However, given the late date of the reversal in terms of Trump’s anticipated exit from office, the new requirement may never have any real impact as presumed President-elect Joe Biden may reverse the order.

Initially blocked by the courts

The basis for Trump’s proclamation requiring adequate health care coverage for migrants seeking an entry visa was a desire to protect and maintain the nation’s health care system for American citizens, Politico reported at the time.

The order allowed for newly arriving immigrants, with certain exceptions, to obtain any of a wide variety of health insurance options, excluding only government-subsidized Medicaid or Obamacare plans, or have the financial ability to cover any health care costs that could reasonably be expected.

A federal district judge in Portland, Oregon, had quickly issued a nationwide injunction blocking the new rule based on an argument that the president had exceeded his authority to make changes to the immigration laws, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Two prior efforts by the Trump administration to reverse and remove that injunction failed at the Ninth Circuit — until now.

Trump has the proper authority

In a 2-1 ruling that cited the Trump v. Hawaii precedent set by the Supreme Court regarding Trump’s travel ban for certain nations, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit determined that the president does have broad authority to make changes to the nation’s immigration laws with respect to who was and was not eligible for admission and to set certain conditions for that eligibility.

According to Breitbart, Trump appointee Judge Daniel Collins wrote in the majority opinion that the Immigration and Nationality Act “grants the president sweeping authority to decide whether to suspend entry, whose entry to suspend, and for how long” for any and all migrants, but especially for those who “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

In the end, it was determined that the district court had “abused its discretion” in issuing a nationwide injunction that “should not have been issued in the first instance,” and therefore, “The order of the district court is reversed, and the preliminary injunction is vacated.”

Biden could reverse it

While this ruling is certainly a win for Trump, the Chronicle noted that the ruling won’t actually be binding until 52 days later, at which point Biden will have been sworn-in as president.

That means that there will be a small window of opportunity for Biden’s new administration to reverse the requirement for new immigrants to obtain health insurance before the rule ever takes effect.

This is yet another example of how the judicial system, after running out the clock on Trump on countless fronts, has belatedly acknowledged that the president was correct in his assertions of authority. In this case, it is likely too little, too late.

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