April 15, 2023
The Biden Administration has announced that it plans to offer health insurance to DACA recipients (Dreamers) via Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The plan will consider DACA residents “lawful residents” which will then allow eligibility for the coverage. Stating that healthcare should be a right and not a privilege, the Administration plans to enact the plan by the end of the month. Advocates are hoping that enactment will help rev up the stalled immigration reforms currently in Congress.
Immigration advocates largely applauded the plan saying that about one third of dreamers currently get insurance through employers, military and some state programs which leaves about two thirds, or 580,000, without access. Sergio Gonzales, Executive Director of the Immigration Hub stated that “When we have healthier people and we have people who are able to access health care that moves the entire country forward. That ensures that we have healthier communities at large.”
Opponents, including Senator Tom Cotton (R), said “Rewarding illegal immigration will bring more illegal immigration. This is an insult to American citizenship.”
The DACA program, which does not provide a path to citizenship, has come under multiple legal challenges since its inception. In 2021 a US District Court Judge ruled the program illegal and the ruling was subsequently upheld with some exceptions: Current DACA recipients could currently retain the status with renewals required every two years but any new approvals were banned while the program is reviewed.