Last night, President Obama announced he will use his executive power to change the country’s immigration policy to prevent deportation of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. The plan includes improving border security, creating opportunities for “high-skilled” immigrants, and addressing the undocumented immigrants who currently live in the country.
The main component of the executive action will allow parents of children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and “DREAMers,” children who entered the country illegally with their parents, to live and work in the country legally for three-year periods after passing background checks and paying fees. They may reapply after each three-year period.
The president’s plan does not create a path to citizenship, nor does it change undocumented immigrants’ ability to access health care coverage.
This plan does not allow undocumented immigrants to access federal health benefits, such as Medicaid, or Affordable Care Act benefits, such as subsidies for private coverage through the health insurance marketplace. In 2013, when the Senate passed its immigration bill, undocumented immigrants were granted a path to citizenship but would have to wait at least 15 years before accessing federal health benefits.
Advocates remain hopeful the president’s action will allow many undocumented immigrants to work legally and find employer-sponsored coverage – even if it offers no new path to citizenship.
Join the Conversation
Immigrants face complex challenges to accessing care and staying well, including language, cultural, and other sociodemographic barriers. America’s Essential Hospitals has established an online forum on immigrant health issues – join me and your colleagues in the group!