Biden Extends Health Care Benefits To DACA Recipients

 May 4, 2024

President Joe Biden has made a historic policy shift.

According to Breitbart, young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will now have access to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Biden administration's response to the 25M immigrants exposed to this program has many questioning his ability to lead.

Initiated by former President Barack Obama, DACA has shielded over a million undocumented youths from deportation. This executive order simultaneously preserved their opportunities to work and study in the United States. Traditionally, these "Dreamers" were not eligible for federal health benefits under the ACA, as underscored by President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union address.

The Economic Impact of Extending Health Care to Dreamers

A recent projection by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates that including DACA participants in Obamacare and Medicaid could extend taxpayers' responsibilities by approximately $4,600 per beneficiary. The total annual burden could rise to about $2.8 billion. Despite the considerable figures, the administration argues this step emphasizes equality and public health benefits.

Opposition has been voiced prominently on the Hill. Senators like J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley, as well as other Republican members of the House, express concerns about boosting governmental expenditure during already strained economic times. This adds a layer of controversy to an already disputed issue.

Still, the White House stands by its decision, highlighting the essential contributions of DACA recipients to American society. This group, which includes many frontline workers, students, and entrepreneurs, is seen as integral to the nation's fabric and future.

Public Reactions and Political Controversy

President Joe Biden stated, "Nearly twelve years ago, President Obama and I announced the DACA program to allow our young people to live and work in the only country they’ve called home. Since then, DACA has provided more than 800,000 Dreamers with the ability to work lawfully, pursue an education, and contribute their immense talents to make our communities better and stronger. I’m proud of the contributions of Dreamers to our country and committed to providing Dreamers the support they need to succeed. That’s why I’ve previously directed the Department of Homeland Security to take all appropriate actions to preserve and fortify DACA. And that’s why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors."

While some argue that Obamacare was never meant to cover illegal aliens—a sentiment famously called out by Rep. Joe Wilson during Obama's 2012 address—others believe health care is a right that should extend to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.

In April of last year, President Biden had already signaled his intent to integrate DACA recipients more fully into society through tax breaks related to Obamacare.

This latest measure continues on that trajectory, aiming to provide a more inclusive approach to a segment of the populace often left at the margins of public health programs.


Significantly, even as this rule aims to provide insurance to more than 800,000 Dreamers, over 25 million Americans remain uninsured. This stark number adds to the urgency and complexity of the ongoing healthcare debate in the United States.

The administration must now handle the intricate balance of expanding benefits while managing fiscal responsibilities. It's a delicate task, especially in a polarized political environment where every policy is under immense scrutiny.

President Joe Biden's decision to extend ACA benefits to DACA recipients marks a major policy shift meant to address disparities in healthcare access. It represents a practical realization of long-held aspirations to ensure health care for all residing in the U.S., albeit amidst significant financial and political challenges. As this policy unfolds, its implications on both public health and political landscapes will undoubtedly remain a topic of heated discussion.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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