Biden Unilaterally Extends Obamacare Benefits to Some Illegal Immigrants

In a move that critics say oversteps executive authority and subverts the legislative process, the Biden administration finalized a directive on Friday to unilaterally extend Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits to some undocumented immigrants.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimates this rule change could lead to 100,000 previously uninsured immigrants who came to the U.S. as children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program enrolling in ACA marketplace plans or a Basic Health Program.

While President Biden originally wanted to allow these immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” to access Medicaid, the administration settled for making them eligible for tax breaks when ACA enrollment opens on November 1st, just days before the 2024 presidential election. “Today, my Administration is expanding affordable, quality health care coverage to DACA recipients,” Biden declared. “Dreamers are our loved ones, our nurses, teachers, and small business owners. And they deserve the promise of health care just like all of us.”

But critics argue this unilateral action is an abuse of executive power that unfairly prioritizes undocumented immigrants. “Joe Biden continues to force hardworking, taxpaying, struggling Americans to pay for the housing, welfare, and now the healthcare of illegal immigrants,” said Karoline Leavitt, spokeswoman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“This is unfair and unsustainable, and Joe Biden’s handouts for illegal immigrants are especially devastating to Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and union workers who are forced to watch their jobs and public resources stolen by people who illegally entered our country.”

To make DACA participants eligible, the administration had to modify the legal definition of “lawfully present” used to determine ACA eligibility, without any Congressional input or approval.

“These changes aim to ensure complete, accurate, and consistent eligibility determinations and verification processes for health coverage for these populations,” the Department of Health & Human Services stated, sidestepping the lack of legislative authorization.

The DACA program itself, launched by President Obama to shield certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation, has been mired in legal challenges.

The Trump administration tried to end DACA, and the program’s fate remains uncertain as it continues to bounce around federal courts.

While Biden unveiled a regulation last year to shore up DACA’s legal footing, a federal judge ruled the current version can only continue temporarily.

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Roughly 580,000 immigrants are currently enrolled in DACA, down from a peak of 800,000. The administration predicts only about 100,000 will actually sign up for ACA coverage, citing access to insurance through work or prohibitive costs.

But any use of taxpayer funds to subsidize health care for those in the country illegally is sure to generate backlash.

It’s highly questionable whether the executive branch has the constitutional authority to unilaterally rewrite laws to extend government benefits to undocumented immigrants.

In the absence of Congressional legislation, these administrative actions rest on shaky legal ground and will almost certainly face court challenges. The next president could also swiftly reverse these policies.

The Biden administration has taken a dictatorial approach of ruling by executive fiat, ignoring the separation of powers and the will of Congress.

If the president wants to extend taxpayer-funded health care benefits to DACA recipients, he should make the case to the American people and their elected representatives, not decree it by administrative edict.

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By attempting to bypass the democratic process, Biden is undermining the rule of law and setting a dangerous precedent of executive overreach that America may one day regret.