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Texas Immigrant Community Still Leery Of ACA Health Care Sign Up

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Some immigrant families are worried that information in their ACA application may be used by immigration and customs officials.

An immigrant-rights group says fear of deportation is the largest reason why one-third of Texas’ immigrant population are not signing up for health care as part of the Affordable Care Act.

People who are in the United States illegally can't participate in the subsidized healthcare program as part of the ACA, but many of them have family members who are eligible. 

Alvaro Huerta is with the National Immigration Law Center and says Texas has one of the largest of uninsured Latino populations in the country.

"The biggest fear that we’re hearing is that folks who themselves are ineligible, for whatever reason, they may be unauthorized to be in the country but have eligible family members -- citizen-children for example," Huerta said. "They are afraid that by putting themselves out there and filling out an application they might somehow communicate their status to the federal government."

Huerta said the Affordable Care Act clearly states that none of that information can be used by immigration and customs officials He said using health care workers from the community to correct some of these misconceptions has been effective, but just isn’t enough of them. He said there has to be more people involved.

"Through churches, through schools, we need to get the information out that folks should apply and often must apply -- their children have to be enrolled," Huerta said.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are about 9 million immigrants in the U.S. that have at least one family member who is eligible for healthcare benefits.