Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and 93 other House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to give Obamacare benefits to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) recipients.
Castro and the 93 other House Democrats signed a letter Tuesday pressing for the change as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming it would benefit not only those in the DACA program, but also the general public, NBC News reported.
The letter was addressed to Biden and Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Norris Cochran.
Castro said in the letter:
Access to Covid-19 testing and treatment for DACA recipients and their U.S. citizen children is absolutely critical during this pandemic, particularly for the 202,500 DACA recipients employed as essential workers on the front lines to keep our country healthy and running.
Under current rules, DACA recipients cannot enroll in Obamacare because they are not considered “lawfully present.” Castro argued that DACA recipients are treated as “lawfully present” for other federal benefits and urged the Biden administration to revoke the rule.
Whether House members plan to enact legislation to this effect or just want Biden to introduce an executive order on the subject is unclear.
Some Republicans say the effort will not pass Congress if Democrats try to introduce it as legislation.
“He’s doubling down on putting American taxpayers last by giving free health care to DACA recipients, when he should be solely focused on the most urgent health issue of our time: getting every American vaccinated,” Lauren Fine, a spokeswoman for Republican House Whip Steve Scalise told Fox News Friday.
“An expansion of ObamaCare to DACA recipients won’t pass Congress and is wasting time he should be spending on leading us out of the Coronavirus crisis and reopening our economy,” Fine added.
If Castro’s push is successful, the move would be another expansion of benefits the Biden administration would be providing to illegal aliens.
The DACA program, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allowed illegal aliens who came to the country as young children to work or go to school while they legally remained in the country.
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly tried to end DACA, but the Supreme Court rebuffed his efforts.