Biden revokes Trump ban on immigrants who can’t afford healthcare, meets with Dreamers to discuss immigration reform

President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in another action to “restore faith” in the U.S. immigration system, on Friday revoked a 2019 Executive Order that had banned immigration visa holders without approved health insurance or ability to pay for care from the United States. 

“My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Biden’s Executive Order states. “We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans.”

In his Order, Biden notes that the 2019 Order was inconsistent with his February Order on “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans”. 

The Order instructs the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Secretary of Homeland Security to review policies and other materials that followed the 2019 Order and issue new guidance that conforms to the Biden administration’s Order. 

Earlier on Friday, Biden met with six recipients of the DACA program to discuss immigration reform. The so-called Dreamers – who work in healthcare as well as education and agriculture – also shared their experiences as frontline workers, the White House said in a statement.

The previous administration, in the 2019 Executive Order, was concerned about the financial burden of uninsured patients on health care providers and tax payers, as well as the undue stress uninsured patients place on emergency rooms. 

It justified banning visa-holders from the country if they didn’t acquire health insurance or prove an ability to pay for health care within 30 days of arrival by citing data that showed “lawful immigrants” were more likely than American citizens to lack health care coverage. 

The Biden administration since January has sought to rebuild and improve the U.S. immigration system, revoking previous travel bans, “upholding” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and most recently pledging to raise the cap on refugees. 

Biden has also introduced immigration reform legislation in Congress that includes a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million people living in the U.S. Despite strong backing by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, it’s unclear what could eventually be passed as Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided on immigration. 

Biden and the DACA recipients discussed two bills, the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, that have passed the U.S. House and await action in the Senate. 

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