Glenn Blain, NY Daily News
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday moved to ensure that so-called “Dreamers” can still receive state-funded health care regardless of their federal immigration status.
Cuomo announced that 42,000 immigrants in New York who were part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain eligible for Medicaid despite the fact that Congress has so-far failed to take action that would allow them to remain in the country legally.
"The federal government's failure to take action to protect DACA recipients is appalling, un-American, unjust and puts hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” Cuomo said. “Here in New York we will do everything in our power to protect DACA recipients and ensure they receive health care.”
Although DACA immigrants are currently eligible to work, Cuomo administration officials fear many will lose their jobs and their health insurance if Congress fails to take action.
Under the policy Cuomo announced Tuesday, New York will deem DACA participants PRUCOL — or permanently residing under color of law — and the state will fund all of the costs of the Medicaid coverage, which they estimate will be about $5,000 per person each year.
The DACA participants are at risk of deportation because of President Trump’s decision last year to end the program and Congress’ inability to reach an agreement that would allow them to remain in the country. The program was intended to protect illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.
New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long slammed Cuomo’s move, arguing the governor was using taxpayer money to bolster his standing among the Democratic Party’s progressive activists.
“I am upset for the hardworking taxpayers of New York who have to pay for illegal immigrants who broke the law,” Long said.
The New York Immigration Coalition, however, applauded Cuomo’s announcement.
“In a time of relentless federal attacks on immigrant communities, it is heartening to see the Governor take a stand for an issue as important as health coverage,” said Coalition Executive Director Steven Choi. “As we continue to fight for permanent protection of young immigrant New Yorkers, maintaining access to health insurance is a key step towards achieving equity and justice.”