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Ellen Wu's picture

The landmark health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a tremendous starting point for improving the health of communities of color in California and across the country. But to truly achieve lasting progress in the fight against health disparities, we need comprehensive reform of our immigration policies.

As advocates, we should celebrate the ACA and be active during its implementation so that everyone who’s eligible for coverage are enrolled in coverage. However, the ACA also highlights the importance of changing the way we as a nation approach immigration policy.

We know that because of our harmful immigration policy, concerns about the exposure of immigration status among mixed status families will prevent legal immigrants from applying for coverage. We know that because of our harmful immigration policy, undocumented immigrants will continue to be uninsured, which will prevent them from getting the health care they need. We know that the recent decision by the Obama Administration to exclude young immigrants
who receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from the Health Insurance Exchanges is counter to the spirit of the ACA, which is to expand health coverage, not deny it.

As long as our health and immigration policies are at odds with each other, millions of people will remain fearful that their health could be leveraged against them as a way to identify their immigration status. As we continue to make progress in health reform, we should also make sure our immigration policies don’t undermine the ability of our nation to produce lasting change.

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