President Joe Biden announced plans to make health care available to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children — individuals who belong to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

“They’re American in every way except for on paper,” Biden said in a video released on Twitter Thursday. “We need to give Dreamers the opportunities and support they deserve.”

How would DACA recipients get health care under Biden program?

Recipients who qualify for the Obama-era DACA program will be able to apply for Medicaid, as well as the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, The Associated Press reported.

Medicaid is administered by the states, but the federal government does provide funding and guidelines for it. Around 580,000 people were enrolled in the DACA program at the end of 2022, per AP.

The White House said in a statement it hopes to get this in place “by the end of the month.”

Immigration has been a fraught topic during Biden’s administration. Many Republicans have pushed back against allowing more immigrants into the country and have called out the administration for a border crisis that impacts cities and states on the border. Immigration advocates and many Democrats have pressed Biden to do more to allow for legal immigration into the country.

The latest move appears to be a way for “Biden to strengthen the DACA program as momentum for comprehensive immigration reform has stalled in Congress,” CNN reported.

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A majority of “immigrants in the country illegally aren’t currently eligible for any federal health benefits,” per The Wall Street Journal.

What is DACA?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created in 2012 during former President Barack Obama’s presidency, and it “offers recipients deportation protections and work permits, which they must renew every two years,” per the Journal.

According to ABC News, there are still legal hurdles and lawsuits that “have threatened the fate of DACA since its inception.”

One case from 2021 could work its way up to the Supreme Court as early as this year, per the Journal.

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