Immigrants have long been a matter of concern for the Obama Administration. From the unknown number of undocumented immigrants in the country to the high number of uninsured in the immigrant population, the Obama Administration has been thinking of finding a way to handle both of these issues. A little earlier this year, the Obama Administration issued a notice to people who had not submitted sufficient documentation to qualify for subsidies and health insurance through the federal marketplace. Now in a big decision, the administration has decided that immigrants who are connected to U.S. citizens or permanent residents in a filial relationship and living in the country for at least five years will be allowed to work and pay taxes. However, the same ruling says that these immigrants will not be eligible for any kind of federal subsidies, whether it is ACA subsidies, Medicare or food stamps.
Although the decision doesn’t allow immigrants federal subsidies, it has ensured that one fear will be put to rest – these immigrants won’t have to worry about deportation. However even after paying taxes, some are feeling cheated at the unavailability of subsidies, due to their to participation in the system. Some conservative groups are sounding the alarm that if this immigrant population are deemed eligible for subsidies. The subsequent cost could be in the billions.
In contrast to the conservative groups, immigration proponents feel that if these immigrants have some kind of legal status and are paying taxes on their income, they should qualify for these benefits. Although Social Security and related benefits are not in the picture, the administration will benefit from this immigration expansion through taxes paid. However, even after these taxes and a boost to government’s earnings, having these benefits for immigrants can create pressure, especially in states and cities near the border that might have a high percentage of immigrants per capita.
Immigrants, too, are divided on this issue. While some are happy that they are now, more or less, legal in the country and don’t have to worry about deportation; others feel that since they are paying taxes on their income, they should be eligible for subsidies.
This issue of determining eligibility for subsidies will not be an easy win for whomever tries to lead the charge. And it won’t be an issue that is settled in a manner of weeks. I have a feeling we will be hearing arguments from both sides for quite some time to come. Where it ends up, we will have to wait and see.