My Health Shouldn’t Have a Price Tag; DACA Youth Turned Away for Medi-Cal

Sep. 28, 2015 / By

Story by Miguel Bibanco.

FRESNO, Calif. – Maria Fernandez was three years old when she came to the United States in 1993. As an undocumented immigrant she’s faced a number of struggles, including gaining access to quality medical care.

That might have changed after Fernandez – who suffers from chronic back pain – applied for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Before DACA, Fernandez, 24, says the prospect of a substantial hospital bill “just wasn’t worth it. I know it’s my health and that my health shouldn’t have a price tag, but it does and I’m not the one who put it there.”

Fernandez grew up in a mixed status household, with some of her relatives U.S.-born citizens, and others, including herself, undocumented. She was initially reluctant to apply for DACA, fearing widespread rumors that she would “be deported” and separated from her family. But on the urging of her parents, she decided to apply for DACA in 2012.

The federal program offers eligible applicants a renewable two-year reprieve from deportation, as well as work authorization and access to education.

For Fernandez, in addition to getting a social security number and the chance to work legally, DACA would finally allow her to get the kind of medical care she needed.

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The kNOw Fresno

The kNOw Fresno

Through The kNOw Youth Media's program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.