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Federal Judge In Oregon Blocks Trump's Order Barring Immigrants Who Can't Pay For Health Care

The Mark O. Hatfield Federal Court building in Portland, Oregon.

A federal judge in Oregon issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday that prevents a Trump administration rule from going into effect that would've barred visa-seekers who can't pay for their own health care within 30 days of entering the United States.

The rule, which was set to go into effect at Sunday at 12:01 a.m., was an attempt by the Trump administration to reduce the number of low-income immigrants staying in the country.

It was blocked by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon after a Saturday hearing in federal court in downtown Portland.

The rule was challenged by Portland-based Innovation Law Lab and Los Angeles-based Justice Action Center. The groups filed a lawsuit on Oct. 30.

Stephen Manning, executive director of the Innovation Law Lab, said late Saturday the administration's goal was to end the United States' long-standing family-based immigration system, something Trump has criticized.

"Probably 65% of individuals who immigrate through the family-based system would've been shut out of this process," Manning said. 

Despite the many factors that make up the family-based immigration system, Manning said Trump's proclamation only looked at whether someone wanting to immigrate has health insurance.

"The approved types of health insurers under the proclamation were either legally impossible to get or practically meaningless," Manning said.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs noted the immigrants affected would be largely non-white.

"Indeed, the Proclamation is unprecedented in its scope and impact, the largest ever suspension on the entry of immigrants of its kind," the lawsuit stated. "It will affect mostly immigrants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia, by drastically reducing, if not eliminating, the numbers of immigrants who enter the United States with family-sponsored visas, humanitarian visas, or diversity visas."

President Trump signed the proclamation on Oct. 4.

"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," Trump's proclamation stated.

The new rule would affect immigrants overseas who are applying for visas. Asylum-seekers and refugees are exempt, as are non-citizen children of U.S. citizens.

"However, it would apply to the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens and the immediate family members of lawful permanent residents," NPR reported last month.

Simon scheduled another hearing for Nov. 22, where he'll hear arguments about whether to issue a preliminary injunction.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.