Biden administration gives DACA recipients Obamacare access

The program’s long-term legal status remains the subject of court challenges

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 03 May 2024 15:20 BST
(Getty Images)

President Biden on Friday said his administration has issued regulations to give the more than 800,000 people protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program access to health care under the Affordable Care Act. The move comes even as the DACA initiative’s long-term future remains in doubt.

The 2012 policy was created as a stopgap to allow people who were brought to the US illegally as children — some of whom only discovered their immigration status years later — to be protected from deportation proceedings and obtain work permits. They are often known colloquially as “Dreamers”.

Eligibility to DACA is limited to those who were less than 31 years of age on June 15, 2021, had lived in the US since 2007 and were under the age of 18 when they entered the US. Nearly one million people have availed themselves of the program, which has ceased accepting new applicants while a series of court challenges to its legality play out.

But for now, those who are currently enrolled in the DACA programme can apply for coverage through the federal exchange beginning this November.

In a statement, Biden said DACA has “provided more than 800,000 Dreamers with the ability to work lawfully, pursue an education, and contribute their immense talents to make our communities better and stronger” over the 12 years since the program’s inception.

The president added that he is “proud of the contributions of Dreamers to our country and committed to providing Dreamers the support they need to succeed”.

“That’s why I’ve previously directed the Department of Homeland Security to take all appropriate actions to ‘preserve and fortify’ DACA. And that’s why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors,” he said.  

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