White House says Biden-Harris Administration is committed to providing Dreamers the opportunities and support they need
The Biden administration is seeking to expand government-subsidized health insurance programs to nearly 600,000 Dreamers, as undocumented immigrants who came the US as children are called.
The proposal would allow participants in the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, access to health insurance under Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges, the White House said on Thursday.
If finalized the proposed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule “will make DACA recipients eligible for these programs for the first time,” it said.
Read: Biden strengthening protections for Dreamers (August 25, 2022)
“Under the proposed rule, DACA recipients will be able to apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, where they may qualify for financial assistance based on income, and through their state Medicaid agency.”
“I believe health care should be a right,” Biden tweeted. “I’ve worked hard to get more Americans health insurance than ever before – and today’s announcement that we’re expanding health coverage for DACA recipients is about giving Dreamers the same opportunities and support.”
Established in 2012 to protect unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as minors from deportation, DACA allows beneficiaries to live and work in the country legally on two-year increments. It does not give them permanent legal status or a path to US citizenship.
The Biden administration’s action comes as DACA recipients and their advocates brace for a ruling from a federal judge in Texas who is reviewing the legality of rules enacted last year to transform the decade-old program into a regulation.
Texas and several other Republican-states are asking US District Court Judge Andrew Hanen to once again declare DACA unlawful and terminate the policy over a two-year period. The program has been closed to new applicants since 2021, when Hanen first ruled it was illegal.
Read: As Biden completes one year, Indian legal dreamers demand relief (January 18, 2022)
The White House said the proposed HHS rule is part of a broader Biden administration commitment to lowering healthcare insurance costs and expanding coverage “so that every American has the peace of mind that health insurance brings.”
“The President’s announcement gives DACA recipients that same opportunity, as the Administration continues to urge Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers, providing them the ultimate peace of mind they need and deserve,” the White House added.
As of the end of 2022, there were 580,310 immigrants enrolled in DACA, according to government data. The program requires applicants to meet several eligibility rules, including having arrived in the country by age 16 and before June 2007, studying in a US school or serving in the military and lacking any serious criminal record.
“President Biden believes that DACA recipients strengthen our economy and enrich our workplaces, our schools and communities, and our country as a whole,” the White House said.
“That’s why on his first day in office, he called on Congress to give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship and he has repeated that call every State of the Union address since,” it said.
“While Congress has failed to act, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant measures to protect Dreamers,” the White House said.
Read: Biden pushes Congress for granting Dreamers a path to citizenship (July 19, 2021)
This includes, issuing regulations by the Department of Homeland Security to “preserve and fortify” DACA and fighting political opponents in court as they attempt to strip them of the only home they have ever known.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to providing Dreamers the opportunities and support they need to succeed, it added.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris believe that health care should be a right, not a privilege, the White House said. “Together, they promised to protect and strengthen the ACA and Medicaid, lowering costs and expanding coverage so that every American has the peace of mind that health insurance brings.”
The President’s announcement gives DACA recipients that same opportunity, as the Administration continues to urge Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers, providing them the ultimate peace of mind they need and deserve, the White House added.
Read: Ami Bera backs renewed Democratic push to protect legal Dreamers (May 19, 2022)
The White House also listed several Federal programs, opportunities, and resources that have been and continue to be available to Dreamers. These include:
AmeriCorps VISTA Program, which provides participants with an opportunity to assist local organizations in alleviating poverty.
Outdoor Programs such as Every Kid Outdoors, the Scout Ranger Program, and the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program as well as the YMCA-National Parks Service partnership, including the Bringing Youth Outdoors Together Summer Camp Program.
American Job Centers, which help job seekers obtain employment and training to further their careers with counseling, skill and ability assessments.
Job Corps, a no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the US Department of Labor, which helps individuals ages 16-24 improve the quality of their lives by empowering them to secure good jobs and become independent.
YouthBuild, a pre-apprenticeship program for certain individuals ages 16-24. Participants learn vocational skills in construction and other in-demand industries while studying.
National Farmworker Jobs Program, which offers services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and certain family members within the network of American Job Centers.
ARP Good Jobs Challenge, an investment in high-quality, locally led workforce systems to expand career opportunities and good-paying jobs for American workers, including DACA recipients, to achieve economic mobility and security.
DACA recipients are eligible to apply for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured financing for FHA Title II Single Family forward mortgage programs.
DACA recipients can receive free or low-cost advice on buying a home, renting, preventing default, avoiding mortgage default and foreclosure through HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.
DACA recipients may be eligible for tax credits, including the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and other child care, and education tax credits.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Immigrant Initiative is aimed at using the Bureau’s tools and authorities to support immigrant families in accessing opportunities to build wealth and contribute to their communities.
Read: Biden administration seeks to expand health coverage to Dreamers (April 13, 2023)
Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Centers provide affordable, accessible, quality primary health care to patients regardless of ability to pay, insurance status, or immigration status.
Emergency Medicaid. DACA recipients may be eligible for emergency Medicaid.
Public Health Programs. DACA recipients can also access public health programs that provide certain immunizations or treatment of communicable diseases.