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Biden set to announce plans to give welfare to DACA recipients

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
April 14, 2023

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it wants to roll out the opportunity for participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—popularly referred to as “Dreamers”—to have access to Medicaid and the Obamacare health insurance (Affordable Care Act) exchange program.

The White House estimates that there are about 800,000 "Dreamers" who live in the United States. These are individuals who were brought to the US by their illegal immigrant parents, according to a White House Briefing Room statement on Thursday.

Proposed ruling amends definition of 'lawful presence'

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is proposing a rule that will amend the definition of "lawful presence" in the U.S., which would then open the door for Dreamers to have access to US healthcare systems connected to the Medicaid and Obamacare programs, as well as financial assistance based on their income.

The White house said that all enrollees will have their eligibility verified electronically when they apply for the programs.

The White House is pushing Congress to approve the ruling by the end of this month.

DACA prevents immigrants brought to the US by their illegal immigrant parents from being deported, allows them to legally work in the US, and requires them to pay taxes, according to ABC news.

Though the DACA program allows them to work on two-year increments, they don't presently qualify for most benefits. In addition, DACA doesn't provide them with legalization or a path to U.S. citizenship, according to CSB news.

In order to take advantage of DACA, recipients must have arrived in the country by age 16 and prior to June 2007, they must be studying in a U.S. school or serving in the military, and they cannot have a serious criminal record.

Some Republicans pushing back on Biden Administration ruling

Some Republicans in Congress are expected to push back on the Biden Administration's efforts to provide DACA program participants with Medicaid and Obamacare benefits.

They are asking U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hansen to renew the declaration that DACA is unlawful, and phase it out over a two-year period, according to CBS news.

Hansesn originally ruled it as illegal in 2021, and the program has been closed to new applicants ever since.

That being said, there were still over half a million immigrants enrolled in DACA at the end of 2022, according to government data.

Obamacare and Medicaid not originally intended to include illegal immigrants

When Obamacare was originally pushed by then-President Obama in 2009, Republicans in congress fought against making it available to illegal immigrants.

In a health care reform speech, Obama made a promise that Obamacare would not be a benefit extended to illegal immigrants, and Republican Rep. Joe Wilson stepped out of protocol and shouted out at Obama the historic words, "You lie!"

The proposed ruling to make Medicaid and Obamacare available to Dreamers is presently only aimed at the ones presently still enrolled in the DACA program, according to The Hill.

However, the ruling would make it easier for those still in the program to remain in it, especially those who are approaching middle age.

Democrats who have been pushing for DACA recipients to have access to the same level of social services as legal immigrants see the pending White House ruling as a political perk as the 2024 election year approaches, according to News Nation.