Things That Matter

Trump Suffers Another Court Loss As A Federal Judge Blocks Rule Requiring Migrants Have Health Insurance

The Trump Administration has been working hard to limit who can and cannot come to the United States as a migrant. From policies that force migrants to ‘remain in Mexico’ while their claims are processed to separating families and locking them away, Trump has proved that cruelty is the point of his immigration policies.

The government, under Trump, has been moving to severely limit immigration to the US and a rule requiring immigrants secure health insurance within 30 days of arrival was one such rule that flew in the face of traditional American immigration policy.

A federal judge has, at least temporarily, blocked Trump’s xenophobic policy from taking hold.

A federal judge in Portland, Oregon, has put on hold a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants to prove they will have health insurance or can pay for medical care before they can get visas.

US district judge Michael Simon granted a temporary restraining order that prevented the rule from going into effect Sunday. It was not clear when he would rule on the merits of the case.

Seven US citizens and a non-profit organization filed the federal lawsuit on Wednesday, contending the rule would block nearly two-thirds of all prospective legal immigrants. The lawsuit also said the rule would greatly reduce or eliminate the number of immigrants who enter the US with family sponsored visas.

“We’re very grateful that the court recognized the need to block the healthcare ban immediately,” said Justice Action Center senior litigator Esther Sung, who argued at a hearing on Saturday on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“The ban would separate families and cut two-thirds of green-card-based immigration starting tonight, were the ban not stopped.”

The legal decision protects migrants from the anti-American rule change.

Judge Simon said the potential damage to families justified a US-wide ban. 

“Facing a likely risk of being separated from their family members and a delay in obtaining a visa to which family members would otherwise be entitled is irreparable harm,” his legal order read.

Would-be immigrants had been struggling to establish how to get the required insurance coverage. The US healthcare system is complex, and has not generally catered to people yet to arrive there.

Trump’s proposed rule would of placed an undue burden on already marginalized groups.

The proclamation signed by Donald Trump in early October applies to people seeking immigrant visas from abroad, not those in the US already. It does not affect lawful permanent residents. It does not apply to asylum seekers, refugees or children.

The proclamation says immigrants will be barred from entering the US unless they are to be covered by health insurance within 30 days of entering or have enough financial resources to pay for any medical costs.

It is the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit immigrant access to public programs while trying to move the US away from a family based immigration system to a merit-based system.

The White House said in a statement when the proclamation was issued that too many non-citizens were taking advantage of the country’s “generous public health programs” and said immigrants contribute to the problem of “uncompensated healthcare costs”.

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 cannot get a visa if using the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies when buying insurance. The federal government pays for those subsidies.

Many pointed out the xenophobia behind the rule change and how it goes against American ideals.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan immigration thinktank, 57% of US immigrants had private health insurance in 2017, compared with 69% of US-born individuals, and 30% had public health insurance coverage, compared with 36%.

The uninsured rate for immigrants dropped from 32% to 20% from 2013 to 2017, since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to Migration Policy. About 1.1 million people obtain green cards each year.

“Countless thousands across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today because the court recognized the urgent and irreparable harm that would have been inflicted,” said Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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.

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

Gerald Herbert / Getty Images

In what many are calling a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just handed a major victory to migrant’s rights advocates. Although the major ruling seems simple on paper, it has major legal implications and could truly change the way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrest undocumented immigrants.

However, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where it would face an uncertain legal future given the possible future makeup of the nation’s highest court.

The 9th Circuit Court just issued a landmark legal decision that could greatly affect ICE arrests.

Credit: Eric Risberg / Getty Images

Long-standing rules for arresting migrants may soon need to change, thanks to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court says that ICE needs to align its arresting and detention procedures with those of all other law enforcement agencies in the country, which are guided by rules within the U.S. constitution. When police arrest people for suspected crimes, the constitution requires them to show probable cause to a judge within 48 hours. But ICE does not do that. When ICE arrests people, it typically holds them for weeks before any judge evaluates whether ICE had a valid legal basis to make the arrest.

But ICE’s policies may no longer be legal.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply to ICE. “The Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate,” the court said. This really shouldn’t be a big deal. Prompt independent review by a judge of whether the government has a legal basis to take away a person’s freedom is an essential safeguard against tyranny.

ICE’s arrest and detention policies have long come under scrutiny for seemingly skirting constitutional rules.

Credit: Joseph Sohm / Getty Images

For almost 200 years, immigration enforcement has existed in a sort of grey area, where the usual rules never applied. For example, when ICE arrests people, individual officers have much more legal discretion than other law enforcement authorities. Detainees may be held for weeks or months before going to a judge who will ask the person how they plead to ICE’s allegations against them.

Only then, long after the initial arrest, might ICE actually be required to show a judge any evidence to back up its case. The person would have spent all of that time detained, likely at a private detention center in a remote area.

For any other person in the U.S., this procedure goes against every legal protection in the constitution. But ICE has gotten away with treating immigrants this way for generations.

The ruling comes as other courts are making it easier for ICE to abuse migrant’s constitutional rights.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit comes less than a week after the 1st Circuit overturned a ban prohibiting ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Massachusetts.

In 2018, ICE created a policy of attempting to arrest undocumented immigrants when they appeared at state courthouses for judicial proceedings. However, a district court granted an injunction against the policy after migrant advocates filed a lawsuit against ICE. They claimed that ICE was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and lacked authority to make civil arrests at courts.

Meanwhile, ICE has resumed large-scale enforcement operations, announcing roughly 2,000 arrests over several weeks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The 9th Circuit’s decision raises an obvious question: How many of those people were detained for more than 48 hours without a review by a judge?

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would be blocking future downloads of social media app TikTok starting on midnight on Sunday.

“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

The Trump Administraiton is also taking action against the popular messaging and payment app WeChat, banning American companies from hosting the app’s internet traffic or processing transactions for the app (one of its key features).

Both TikTok and WeChat are the two most popular tech exports from China.

via Getty Images

TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform that allows users to share 15-second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to popular music (among other things). The app recently exploded in popularity, racking up 99.8 million downloads in the first six months of 2020.

TikTok and WeChat have both been recent targets of the Trump administration due to their data-collection practices.

TikTok, specifically, has recently come under fire for violating Google privacy policies. TikTok collects and documents massive amounts of data from their users, like videos watched and commented on, location data, device type, and copy-and-paste “clipboard” contents. The app even records people’s keystroke rhythms as they type.

The Trump Administration has long been suspicious of TikTok’s data-collection, speculating that TikTok might be sending the data to the Chinese government.

The Trump administration has argued that such massive amounts of data in the hands of a foreign government is a threat to national security. TikTok denies that they are handing over the data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, for their part, are not hiding their displeasure about the ban, releasing a public statement saying: “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”

This isn’t the first time TikTok has gone toe-to-toe with the Trump administration. The social media company sued the administration in August after Trump signed an executive order enacting broad sanctions against the app. TikTok claimed that the order denied the company of due process.

The TikTok ban is making waves because it marks the first time the U.S. has banned a tech app on the basis of national security concerns.

But some critics are saying that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the ban. “It just feels to me to be improvisational,” said cyber-security expert Adam Segal.

Both TikTok users and concerned Americans have taken to the internet to express their anger at the Trump administration’s decision.

“Don’t be mistaken folks,” said one Twitter user. “Sunday it will be TikTok. Tomorrow it will be twitter, FB, Instagram…you name it…We must protect free speech!”

Another pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump targeting China when he doesn’t seem to be as concerned about Russia meddling in our internet affairs. “I live in a world where TikTok is a threat to national security but Russian interference in our elections is not,” she said. “This is Trump’s America.”

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