Legal immigrants in the United States are afraid that they will put their undocumented relatives at risk of being deported if they sign up for Obamacare, which is starting a new enrollment period at the weekend. Officials say that much of the concern is the result of a failure by the government to properly communicate in foreign languages, including Spanish.
The problem was exacerbated in 2013 when health exchange Covered California first opened and did not have Spanish healthcare application forms available ‒ Spanish is the language spoken by the great majority of immigrants in the state. Around 62% of those with insurance are Hispanic, with around 50% of these being undocumented immigrants. The program now intends to spend $95m on marketing to reach out to legal immigrants and US citizens.
Officials insist that immigrants legally living in the United States will not have their personal information sent to immigration authorities and are entitled to Obamacare. “We have to address the issue of immigration head on,” Covered California’s executive director, Peter Lee, declared in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We need trusted voices saying it’s safe.”
Immigration groups have been complaining about a language problem for some time and are now suing the government for enforcing provisions of the healthcare act that prevents undocumented immigrants from signing on. 115,000 people were taken off the program after failing to show that they were legal immigrants or in possession of US citizenship.