Trump Administration Extends Visa Ban and Lifts Ban on Health Insurance Requirement
By: Rachel Horner
Now in its very last days, the Trump Administration has delivered a double blow to the immigration industry. The original proclamations issued by the Trump Administration to ban most immigrant entry in April and June 2020 (which were set to expire January 7th) have been extended to March 31, 2021.
The first proclamation, enacted in April 2020, suspended a majority of immigrants (specifically green-card holders) from entering the country. Following closely in its footsteps, Trump announced another proclamation last June, in which the Trump Administration specifically halted the entry of those holding H-1B, L-1, and other nonimmigrant visas.
In addition, the immigration industry is expected to take another hit due to the ninth circuit’s decision to lift the ban of President Trump’s proclamation to suspend entry of immigrants to the United States who cannot obtain health insurance within 30 days. The proclamation was originally banned in October 2019, but the decision to reverse course came at roughly the same time as the extension of the work visa ban, with a 2-1 decision led by U.S. Circuit Judge Daniel Collins.
Even the courts’ denial of previous bans hasn’t necessarily made things in immigration easy. Almost immediately after Judge Jeffrey S. White blocked the visa ban in October, other restrictive immigration policies followed suit (specifically the DOL and DOH’s IFRs) backed by the same justification of limiting immigration to save the country’s economy from the COVID-19 crisis. This pattern of back-and-forth between the courts and the Trump Administration has continued throughout the year, now culminating in the aforementioned revival of the work visa and health insurance bans.
While the crashing economy has been used as a justification for all of the restrictive immigration policies put into place, little evidence shows that targeting immigration would have any positive effect on the current state of the American economy. For example, the majority of individuals who hold H-1B visas work in occupations such as Computer Programmers, which account for a small sector of the economy. Judge White, in his argument against the June proclamation, also cited evidence that the unemployment rate in the computer-based work sector had actually decreased.
As the Trump Administration is again pushing a ban with little evidence behind it—a ban that will outlast this administration and spill into future President Joe Biden’s presidency—it will be interesting to see whether Biden prioritizes ending the ban sooner than its March 2021 expiration date.