On Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a memo stating that the agency would not use personal information submitted through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) website to enforce immigration law. Undocumented immigrants are barred from qualifying for the ACA, but many live in “mixed status families” with legal immigrants who may be eligible for enrollment.
During the enrollment process, some applicants have to provide the immigration status of their household members to determine eligibility requirements. The statement by ICE indicates that the agency has always had the policy of not using personal information to pursue civil immigration enforcement:
Under the laws and implementing regulations, information provided by individuals for such coverage may not be used for purposes other than ensuring the efficient operation of the Marketplace or administering the program, or making or verifying certain eligibility determinations, including verifying the immigration status of such individuals…
[…] ICE does not use information about such individuals or members of their household that is obtained for purposes of determining eligibility for such coverage as the basis for pursuing a civil immigration enforcement action against such individuals or members of their household.
Although the ICE memo merely clarifies existing policy, it may serve to reassure some immigrants to apply for health insurance. Legal Latino immigrants have lowest rate of health coverage– at least 28 percent of Latino citizens and legal immigrants are uninsured. Some of these uninsured Latinos make up the 16 million immigrants who live in mixed-status households.