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Trump's Visa Policy is Yet Another Attack on Immigrants of Color

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the first thing that I saw was a notification on my phone telling me that the Trump administration was enacting a new policy to deny visas to immigrants without access to healthcare. A truly fun thing to wake up to. In my half-asleep stupor, I was already angry, but as the day went on, I revisited the article, and my anger only grew. This is a blatant way, once again, for the Trump administration to control what kind of people are able to come into this country—that is, white people.

The proclamation declared that anyone applying for a visa while abroad must prove that they will have the ability to secure health insurance within thirty days of their arrival in the US or have sufficient funds to cover any possible medical costs. While this does not apply to refugees, asylum seekers, or children of US citizens, it disproportionately affects people who are applying for “family-based” reasons and winners of visa lotteries. It does not, however, outline the way that applicants would have to prove that they can obtain insurance or that they have the money, leaving that up to the individuals that evaluate applications (which is indicative of the incompetence of this administration in and of itself.)

The rationale for this new rule was that uninsured immigrants put a strain on taxpayers; Trump proclaimed, “Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.” The proclamation also claimed that lawful immigrants are three times more likely to be uninsured than US citizens. Well, duh. With policies requiring lawfully present immigrants to wait five years to qualify for programs like Medicaid and CHIP, the US government is essentially forcing these people to be uninsured, unless they can find a job that offers insurance premiums they can afford, and then blaming them for being a “burden” on the economy. 

The administration may claim that these individuals cost US taxpayers money, but in fact, according to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Health Services, “Expenditures for uninsured immigrants were 61% lower compared to uninsured U.S.-born individuals” and “immigrants contributed $14 billion more to the Medicare trust fund than they withdrew.” The Journal also argues that if these immigrants had access to the same benefits that low-income Americans did, they would be more likely to enter the middle class and afford to buy homes, cars, and other goods, which would help to grow the US economy.

All of this in combination with the recent “public charge” law and Trump’s repeated efforts to enact a travel ban make it clear to me that these proclamations are simply thinly veiled attempts to police the type of people that are allowed to enter this country. The Trump administration has demonstrated that to them, white and wealthy people are the acceptable types of immigrants, while Black, brown, and low-income individuals are the undesirables. The reference to countries like El Salvador and Haiti as “shithole countries” and the calls for more immigrants from Norway paints an even clearer picture of the beliefs of this administration and president.

This is despicable and disgusting. This country has for decades prided itself as being a home for all, even though this has historically not been the case. The stereotype of the “American Dream” and the “melting pot” is continually perpetuated, and yet, it could not be farther from the truth. This is not a national security issue nor is it an economic issue—this is, pure and simple, a racist and hate-filled proclamation aimed at reducing the number of people of color entering the United States.

Americans need to stand up for their country and for immigrants by opposing laws such as these. We cannot sit idly by while people are denied entry to this country purely based on the color of their skin and the balance of their bank account. You should be angry and you should be paying attention. It is so easy to become immune—when I saw the notification, I almost didn’t even read the article because there have been so many anti-immigration policies enacted recently that it barely registered with me. But we need to resist that tendency. Once we become complacent, who knows what could come next?