ACTION ALERT: Don't Deny Health Care Access to DREAMers
Oct 25, 2012
By Helly Lee
CLASP and many other advocates applauded in June when the Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would allow certain undocumented immigrant youth the opportunity to apply for a renewable two-year temporary, lawfully present status. If granted deferred action, individuals would have the opportunity to be eligible for work authorization. After many failed attempts in Congress at passing comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act which would provide a path to permanent residency and citizenship for young immigrants, this administrative move was a small achievement for those who were brought to the U.S. as children and have much to contribute to the country they call home. Deferred action through DACA is limited to youth who, among other criteria, have excelled in education or have served in the US armed forces.
However, we are greatly concerned by the Administration's subsequent statement that youth granted deferred action under DACA are not considered lawfully present for purposes of health care access. Under this policy, individuals would not even be able to purchase their own private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges that will start operations in 2014. Prior to this rule change, they would have been eligible for health care programs like other lawfully present individuals and those who have been granted deferred action through other existing avenues.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is accepting comments on this issue until October 29. CLASP has submitted our comments urging DHHS not to deny health care access to young immigrants. We encourage you to learn more about this issue and to submit your own comments before the deadline.