No Obamacare or Safety Net While on Senate’s Path to Citizenship

That's a long wait for a disproportionately poor population--that will continue paying taxes for benefits they can't access.

By Seth Freed Wessler Apr 18, 2013

***[For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.](*** There’s lots of fanfare about the path to citizenship in the Senate’s immigration reform bill, but the bill leaves serious questions about how newly legalized people will survive once on that path. This is perhaps nowhere more concerning than in the context of the full exclusion of newly legalized immigrations from Obamacare health insurance exchanges and other federal benefits. Under the bill, immigrants on the 10-year path to citizenship–what’s called the Provisional Registered Immigrant status, or RPI–would be excluded from all means-tested federal benefits. Let’s just make clear what this means. Millions of people who work overwhelmingly in low-income jobs and who owe several thousand dollars in fines and in some cases need cash for mandatory English classes (in addition to paying the regular taxes that all workers pay) will be barred completely from programs meant to keep families afloat. That’s Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, cash assistance, Social Security Insurance and Obamacare’s insurance exchange. It’s not just that these folks are left out. It’s that they’re left out even though they will have paid for years into the programs through payroll taxes.