US: Health info won't be used for immigration law

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Associated Press

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 6:33 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is stressing that information submitted while signing up for coverage under a major new health care law will not be used to enforce immigration law.

That's always been the practice, but some immigrants fear that personal details could be used against them. That led the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to clarify. In a memo released late Friday, the agency said it does not use information provided during the health coverage enrollment process to pursue civil immigration enforcement.

People living illegally in the U.S. are barred from benefits under the Affordable Care Act health law, but U.S. citizens and legal residents living with them may be eligible.

Some applicants must provide information on the citizenship status of those who live with them to help make sure the household is processed correctly.

Gillian Christensen, an agency spokeswoman, said Friday's statement is consistent with the agency's longstanding practices.

Immigrant advocates welcomed the administration's decision to be clear about how a person's information will be used.

Jennifer Ng'andu, a health policy expert with the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group, said Saturday that advocates want uninsured Hispanics to not be afraid to sign up for coverage.

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Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed.

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