President Biden continues to forge his own path while also finishing the good work that he and President Obama started. In 2012, Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, through executive action. The goal was to protect immigrants who arrived in the United States as children without documentation.
Since its inception, DACA “has brought stability, possibility, and progress to more than 800,000 Dreamers,” according to a new White House fact sheet. Although the program does not yet include a path to permanent status, it has allowed Dreamers to live and work in the country that they have always known.
Biden has now announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will soon propose a rule to let DACA recipients apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and through their state’s Medicaid agency. The Biden administration expects to finalize the proposed rule by the end of this month.
According to data from HHS, there are close to 580,000 Dreamers, and roughly 34% (one-third) of them have no health insurance. As Secretary Xavier Becerra put it, “Dreamers come from every corner of this planet, but the United States is their home… The path to a prosperous life starts with having access to good health. And the path to a prosperous nation starts by extending access to health care to every American.”
Coinciding with this positive development, newly published research torpedoes a major talking point Republicans have tried to use for years against DACA. A study published in the Journal of Urban Economics found that DACA causes no harm to U.S.-born workers. On the contrary, the results suggest that U.S.-born citizens have benefited from DACA because it draws people out of unemployment, increasing the share in the labor force. Finally, the study showed there was a “non-negative impact on incomes.”
Even though 80% of voters last year voiced support for legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Congress hasn’t acted and DACA remains under threat. Nevertheless, the Biden administration is doing what it can to protect Dreamers and keep them healthy. As the White House stated, it’s about “providing them the ultimate peace of mind they need and deserve.”