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DACA recipients praise Biden's healthcare expansion, say it's long overdue

DACA began under former President Obama in 2012
DACA protesters
Posted at 9:03 PM, Apr 13, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Thousands of Arizona DACA recipients could soon be eligible for affordable healthcare coverage for the first time ever.

President Biden announced Thursday a proposed rule that would open eligibility for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, President Biden said, "We need to give dreams the opportunities and support they deserve."

"I feel like this is honestly a step in the right direction," said 25-year-old Mariana Yanez, who moved to the U.S. at three years old. She said her undocumented parents wanted to escape the cartel death threats their family was receiving in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she was born.

"They were going to kill him, my mom and me if we didn’t comply with what they were saying we needed to do," she said.

Yanez also works for the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, a non-profit that aids in helping immigrants overcome challenges faced when moving to the United States.

She’s one of about 23,000 DACA recipients in Arizona who could soon have access to affordable healthcare.

"I won’t have to worry about if I can or can’t pay for the medications or the cost," Yanez said regarding the president's announcement. "I’ll be able to go and hopefully get that covered. Get help and aid with that, you know."

According to the Centers for American Progress, DACA recipients in Arizona contribute more than $92 million in taxes each year. As someone who pays taxes like any other American citizen, Yanez feels this expansion is long overdue.

"It’s like, we do pay taxes. We are just [people] who grew up here," Yanez said. "It’s like the minimum, thank goodness we are getting the minimum. Thank goodness that was approved."

While many praised the president's announcement, some on the opposite side of the issue slammed the president for expanding healthcare to DACA recipients.

"Rewarding illegal immigration will bring more illegal immigration. This is an insult to American citizenship," Republican Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted.

In a statement, the White House said it expects "to get this done by the end of the month," an ambitious timeline given that implementing new regulations can often take months.