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A Federal Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Against Trump’s Order Requiring Immigrants to Have Health Care

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel rules in favor of Portland's Latino Network in a case of national significance.

A divided three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel today sided with the Latino Network, a Portland nonprofit seeking to block an anti-immigrant proclamation President Donald J. Trump issued last October.

That proclamation required immigrants to prove they could obtain unsubsidized health insurance within 30 days of entering the country or could afford to pay for medical costs out of pocket.

"Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs," the White House said when Trump issued the proclamation.

The Latino Network and seven individual plaintiffs, who said the proclamation would cause them to be separated from family members, sued the Trump administration in U.S. District Court in Portland the following month in November 2019.

That court granted a temporary injunction, preventing the proclamation from going into effect nationwide. The federal government then sought to block that injunction, seeking a stay from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, the three-judge panel found that allowing the injunction to remain in effect until the underlying legal issues could be litigated would not cause the federal government "irreparable harm"—but it would devastate immigrant families. Advocates say if the proclamation were to go into effect, it would affect 300,000 people per year.

"Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm absent preliminary injunctive relief," a court summary of the 9th Circuit panel found. "Plaintiffs and 60% of visa applicants would be unable to satisfy the requirements of the Proclamation, the district court concluded that the Proclamation would result in prolonged separation from family members, a factor that this court has held constitutes sufficient irreparable harm."

Advocates cheered the 2-1 ruling.

"Today's decision is a gratifying step towards our families' reunification and a reinforced commitment to the family-based immigration system that has been in place in our country for over a hundred years," said Carmen Rubio, executive director of the Latino Network. (Rubio is also a candidate for a Portland City Council seat.) "For the last four years, we have seen our community suffer at the hands of the current administration's attacks against the same foundations our country was built upon. We will not stop fighting until our families are together."

The case will now proceed with the injunction against enforcement of the Trump proclamation in effect.