After Years of Advocacy, DACA Recipients Can Enroll for Health Care Coverage

Langley Park, MD – Immigrant rights organization CASA, immigration advocates and allies are celebrating a major victory in healthcare. The Biden Administration announced today that immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA, are now qualified to enroll in the ACA marketplace and for Medicaid.

CASA’s Executive Director, Gustavo Torres, issued the following statement. “Today the Biden Administration has taken a huge step in the right direction to correct a wrong. Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients will now have access to buy healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. This expansion is not just about healthcare access; it’s about affirming the humanity of immigrant families, recognizing the immeasurable contributions of DACA recipients, and moving our nation toward fairness. We will cherish this victory and continue the hard work ahead to fight for immigrant families who call this country their home.”

CASA member Monica Camancho was overjoyed when she heard the news about the access to the ACA for DACA holders. She said, “I am happy to know that DACA recipients will now be admitted to the ACA. Health care is a right and not a privilege. Without access to healthcare, we face significant barriers to receiving medical treatment, preventive care and essential medications, for people like my father who suffered a stroke and is now on life medication. My family knows far too well what it is like to live without healthcare in this country. As a DACA recipient, I welcome today’s news, but I will continue fighting on the local, state, and national level for healthcare access for all immigrant families!”

When the DACA program was established in 2012 by President Obama, recipients didn’t meet the federal definition of “lawful presence.” Thus they were disqualified from being able to enroll in the ACA. This exclusion denied many immigrants from access to the health care system, as most people in the United States get their healthcare through their employer. If the employer doesn’t offer healthcare, or the DACA holder is a student, then they are not eligible to enroll. That’s why this is such a win. DACA recipients will be able to enroll for healthcare at or their state’s ACA marketplace.

Cindy Kolade, CASA’s manager of health and human services said, “I am so excited about today’s victory. As a DACA recipient myself, I understand the hardship of not having access to healthcare. Were it not for my employer-sponsored health coverage, I too would be uninsured. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction. No one should ever be denied healthcare because of their immigration status. When people are healthy, society is better for everyone.”

“We welcome this overdue adjustment to the ACA. It has been a long time coming for DACAmented people who have contributed so deeply to our country,” said Dr. Michelle LaRue, CASA’s health and human services director. “Healthcare is a human right. Their vital roles in healthcare, education, and essential services during the pandemic and now, underscore the urgent need to recognize their contributions by ensuring they have access to the same rights and opportunities as citizens”

With over 155,000 lifetime members across 46 US states, CASA is a national powerhouse organization building power and improving the quality of life in working-class: Black, Latino/a/e, Afro-descendent, Indigenous, and Immigrant communities. CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members.