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San Antonio-area DACA recipients can now apply for healthcare through federal marketplace

Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Houston to oppose the state of Texas’ challenge of DACA. Taken on June 1, 2023.
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Houston to oppose the state of Texas’ challenge of DACA. Taken on June 1, 2023.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients will be able to apply for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace as soon as this November, according to the White House.

The Biden-Harris Administration announced earlier this month that DACA recipients would be eligible for healthcare coverage through the ACA for the first time. The plan to expand coverage for DACA recipients was first announced last year.

Antonio Arellano of NextGen America, a progressive nonprofit youth advocacy organization, said the opportunity for coverage will help some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

“If you’re sick, you can’t work, you can’t go to school, you’re very limited,” he said. “So ensuring that DACA recipients have access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage … (is) contributing to their communities and continuing to build a brighter future for themselves, and for future generations.”

Arellano said Texas has one of the largest groups of DACA recipients in the nation. There are 87,620 active DACA recipients in Texas and 4,270 in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area, according to the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Enrollment for the ACA marketplace starts in November for all eligible residents each year. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, this means DACA recipients could receive healthcare as soon as December this year.

Arellano said the new healthcare rule is “just one piece of the puzzle.” Last year, a federal court ruled the revised DACA program was illegal. The Associated Press reported the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final say on the matter, representing the third time the program will be sent to the high court.

“President Biden and Vice President Harris must continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for ‘Dreamers,’ ” Arellano said. “As a former DACA recipient, I urge congress to prioritize the passage of legislation that provides a permanent protection and stability for ‘Dreamers’ and their families.”

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