Hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants who will be allowed to stay in the United States under President Barack Obama's new deferred deportation policy, have been specifically excluded from health insurance coverage, it has been revealed.
The administration quietly ruled in late August that the immigrants are not classified as "lawfully present" in the United States meaning they cannot benefit from clauses in the president's own healthcare overhaul, the New York Times
They also are not eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius ruled.
The revelation seems to put the practical effects of two of Obama's major policy planks from his first term — healthcare and help for the children of illegal immigrants — at odds with each other.
White House spokesman Nick Papas told the Times that the deferred-deportation policy — which allows children of illegals to remain in the country if they go to college or join the military — was never meant to confer eligibility for federal health benefits.
The Times says the move might help Obama "avoid a heated political debate over whether the health law is benefiting illegal immigrants," in the run-up to November's election.
But it is also alienating many Hispanics who, polls show, intend to vote overwhelmingly for the president. Jennfier Ng'andu, a health policy specialist at the Hispanic rights group, the National Council of La Reza told the paper, "We do not understand why the administration decided to do this.
"It's providing immigration relief to children and young adults so they can be fully integrated into society," Ng'andu added. "At the same time, it's shutting them out of the health care system so they cannot become productive members of society."
The Times cites the case of Ricardo Campos, a 23-year-old Salvadorean who is studying to become a doctor but who was confined to a wheelchair for a year after he discovered he had bone cancer.
"What if one day the cancer comes back and I don't have health insurance?" Campos asks. "That's scary."
Many Republicans claim that Obama overstepped his authority with the deferred deportation program, calling it a backdoor amnesty.
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