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OXNARD, Calif. – For years, DREAMer Rodrigo Perea, 18, lived under a threatening cloud of deportation. Now, Perea has legal permission to live and work in the U.S.– but until recently he was still in the dark about the low-income health programs he qualifies for.
He’s not alone. Thousands of immigrants, and even many health care advocates in California who work with young immigrants, are unaware that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may qualify for state-funded only Medi-Cal, identical in every way to the full scope federal and state funded program that shares the name.
Last August, the Obama administration initiated DACA, giving certain undocumented youth who have grown up in the United States permission to live and work in the country for two-year renewable periods.
Two months later, the administration announced that DACA recipients would not be eligible to receive federal benefits, including health insurance programs — an obvious attempt on the administration’s part to prove to its foes that DACA would not renege on the administration’s promise that undocumented individuals would not benefit from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
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