Thousands of undocumented immigrants will be able to obtain health care through the Affordable Care Act under a new federal rule, U.S. officials said this week.

The new eligibility comes for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which since 2012 has protected undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as young people from deportation. The program also provides recipients with work permits. More than 500,000 immigrants have DACA protections but have been ineligible for benefits such as federal health insurance programs.

A rule set to be published Friday by the Health and Human Services Department would change that, granting such immigrants access to health coverage and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act when the regulation takes effect in November.

U.S. officials estimate that about 100,000 uninsured people could obtain health insurance as a result.

In a statement, President Biden said he was “proud of the contributions” of DACA recipients to the United States and committed to providing them with support.

“That’s why,” he added, his administration was “taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors.”

Xavier Becerra, the health secretary, told reporters on Thursday that the measure would have a big impact on the well-being of those immigrants. He noted that DACA recipients are much more likely to be uninsured than the general U.S. population and that people without health insurance are less likely to receive routine health screenings.

The Biden administration’s move to expand protections for younger undocumented immigrants comes as the administration has faced increased pressure to tighten border restrictions and after years of legal challenges to DACA.

The Trump administration aimed to gut DACA, but the U.S. Supreme Court stopped that effort in 2020 while leaving the program’s future in doubt. In 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the government could no longer grant protections to new applicants. Immigrants already in the DACA program are still able to keep their protections and renew them.

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