Nearly 33,000 Houstonians could benefit from a healthcare expansion for DACA recipients

The Biden Administration is planning to expand healthcare coverage for DACA recipients by the end of the month.


FILE: An immigrant family joins members of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, CHIRLA, on a vehicle caravan rally to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), around MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Thursday, June 18, 2020.

President Biden announced a healthcare expansion for DACA recipients last Thursday, April 13.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the United States as children. According to the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, the Greater Houston area has the fourth-largest number of DACA recipients in the country with an estimation of almost 33,000 DACA recipients in Houston in 2020.

Damaris Gonzalez has been a DACA recipient since 2012 and is part of the Texas Organizing Project, an organization that works with Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, and Bexar counties. Gonzalez said the expansion could benefit a lot of people she knows.

"I am blessed to say that my job offers healthcare benefits, but many of my community members don't have the same resources," she said.

Last year, a Texas-based U.S. District Judge declared DACA illegal. Gonzalez was concerned about the pending appeal of the program despite the healthcare expansion.

"We don't know where the program is going to stand," she said. "We're looking at maybe like in a couple of months, the court will have a decision about whether to terminate the program or not. And if that happens, this whole initiative will not be beneficial to any of us."

Those who are already DACA recipients have been temporarily unaffected by the pending appeal, but applications for the program have ended.

The healthcare expansion is expected to take place by the end of the month, according to a statement from the White House. If finalized, the rule will make DACA recipients eligible for programs such as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

"President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege," the White House statement said.

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