This week, Latino activists wrote President Barack Obama a letter demanding that illegal immigrants who have received and will get temporary amnesty also qualify for Obamacare and other government benefits.
Writing on behalf of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), Thomas A. Saenz, the President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and Jose Calderon, the President of the Hispanic Federation, urged Obama to “undertake expansive administrative action to provide health care access to undocumented immigrants with grants of deferred action, both under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and any future affirmative administrative relief programs.”
“NHLA strongly recommends that temporary administrative relief must treat all persons eligible for relief and employment authorization as lawfully present for all purposes, including eligibility for public benefits and affordable health care,” the NHLA’s Immigration Committee Co-Chairs continued. “Due to this Administration’s changes to existing federal rules, those who qualified for DACA are excluded from affordable health insurance options available to all others with deferred action.”
They said that “administrative action is warranted in light of the chronic and severe lack of access to health care faced by the immigrant community, particularly Latino immigrants.” Saenz and Calderon wrote that since those who have received temporary amnesty under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program cannot get Obamacare due to “hastily issued” regulations, state lawmakers have been “emboldened” to “discriminate against DACA grantees.”
“NHLA asks that you apply the fairness and equality that your Administration has shown in various other areas in the health care context and ensure that no one–regardless of their immigration status–lacks access to critical health care services,” they wrote in the letter. “For DACA recipients in need of health care, the denial of affordable care and coverage undoubtedly leads to human suffering and diminished health.”
Saenz and Calderon also noted that “NHLA previously delivered a letter outlining our recommendations for affirmative relief, including the expansion of deferred action and transition to permanent status for the undocumented population” and again urged Obama to enact “administrative actions that would expand health care access for undocumented immigrants with employment authorization and lawful presence.”
Obama has vowed to enact an executive amnesty by the end of this year. Hispanic lawmakers like Rep. Luis Gutierriez (D-IL) have demanded “interest” in the form of a “bolder” and “broader” executive amnesty after the White House asked the Latino community for “forbearance” after missing the “by the end of the summer” amnesty deadline that Obama imposed.