Taking the ACA out of DACA (Deferred Action)
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced that 82,000 applications for deferred action have been completed, and 29 have already received notification that they now are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. Those are 29 individuals who are, as President Obama said, “Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”
Yet they still are not considered Americans on paper, and now they aren't considered people worthy of equal treatment of the law or the stethoscope.
In order to participate in the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan program (PCIP), a temporary ACA initiative that sets up high-risk health insurance pools that provide medical coverage for eligible uninsured individuals with preexisting conditions, an individual must be “lawfully present” in the United States. If enrolled into DACA, undocumented young immigrants would be considered “lawfully present,” but a recent the amendment issued by the Health and Human Services clarifies the definition of “lawfully present” so that the program does not expand for those approved by the DACA process. Health and Human Services also directed states not to grant eligibility to immigrants for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Various advocacy organizations that have expressed disappointment over the administration’s decision to block DREAMers from benefiting from DACA. They claim that this decision runs counter to the new policy that aims to protect DREAMers.
Jennifer M. Ng’andu, the deputy director of health policy at the National Council of La Raza, said: “We do not understand why the administration decided to do this. It’s providing immigration relief to children and young adults so they can be fully integrated into society. At the same time, it’s shutting them out of the health care system so they cannot become productive members of society.”
The administration contends that the new immigration policy was in no way meant to expand the scope of the health care law. Both pieces of legislation have been considered among the best policies enacted under the Obama administration. Many immigrant advocate groups have expressed disappointment and frustration over these new restrictions. For them it is, as the old adage goes, “Two steps forward, one step back.”