Obamacare Navigators Helping People Enroll At Mexican Consulates
by Kerry Picket 27 Mar 2014The Obama administration has been helping to facilitate a series of events nationwide at Mexican Consulate offices to enroll people in Obamacare – and a key activist says the efforts are “our responsibility” regardless of citizenship.
“Whether they’re Mexican nationals or whether they’re United States citizens or whether they’re in transition-- and if they’re there it is our responsibility within all of America to educate on the Affordable Care Act,” Enroll America Field Organizer Jose Medrano told Breitbart News on Wednesday.
Health Care insurance navigator groups hosted an Obamacare enrollment fair on Tuesday in the Mexican Consulate’s Brownsville office, The Rio Grande Guardian reported last Friday, where Mexican nationals among others were counseled about enrolling in the ACA.
“The Mexican consulate is a very reliable source of information to the Latino community. And therefore when they host their events, yesterday being the health fair, there are several hundred people that show up,” Medrano said.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), undocumented immigrants aren't supposed to be receiving government-run health benefits or subsidized coverage. However, President Barack Obama told Latinos in early March that the Healthcare.gov website would not be used to find out about an individual’s immigration status.
“None of the information that is provided in order for you to obtain health insurance is in any way transferred to immigration services,” he said.
According to Medrano, 101 families were represented at the ACA enrollment and education fair at the Brownsville Mexican Consulate on Tuesday and about 60 percent of them spoke to a health care counselor. Medrano says that the consulate’s office is helpful “as part of the transition” to “mainstream… America.”
This is not the first time the Mexican Consulate has been used to enroll individuals into Obamacare. Get Covered Illinois announced in late February that the Erie Family Health Center hoped to increase its enrollment numbers at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, The Sun Times reported.
According to Vegas Seven, in Nevada, the Latino community is being targeted for ACA enrollment at the Mexican Consulate in downtown Las Vegas. Insurance News says Hispanic National Advocacy groups like National Alliance for Hispanic Health have helped lead the push to get more Latinos enrolled in Obamacare.
“Promoting Obamacare at a Mexican consulate raises three major policy concerns,” Stephen Miller, a spokesman for top immigration hawk Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Breitbart News.
“One, the possibility that illegal immigrants could fraudulently access federal subsidies; two, that such promotions provide a financial inducement to unlawfully enter the U.S. (or overstay a visa) by offering households headed by illegal immigrants federal subsidies through their legal relatives or dependents; and three, that these activities widen an existing flaw in our legal admissions process by continuing to subvert the principle that those seeking to lawfully enter the US should be financially self-sufficient,” Miller said.
Mexican Consulates have been used previously to advance USDA assistance programs like food stamps to Mexican nationals, The Daily Caller reported in July of 2012. Mexico promoted the program to 50 of its consular offices in the U.S.
In 2012, ranking members of the Senate Budget, Finance, Judiciary, and Agriculture Committees wrote an oversight letter to Secretaries Napolitano and Clinton that said in part:
The [Immigration and Nationality Act] specifically states: ‘An alien who… is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.’ … We were thus shocked to discover that both the State Department and DHS exclude reliance on almost all governmental welfare programs when evaluating whether an alien is likely to become a public charge… Under your interpretation, an able-bodied immigrant of working age could receive the bulk of his or her income in the form of federal welfare and still not be deemed a ‘public charge.’”
Medrano, however, said the Mexican Consulate is a trusted source of information for Latinos, who use “those who they relied on for good information” in the past.
“So many of these, of course, while they are U.S. citizens have very strong ties to the consulate in terms of news and information and events and things like that,” he said.
He added, “And also, it was a health fair. The Mexican consulate was providing a community health fair and as part of that, they asked us to come in, because that was the tie in.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been taking time out of her schedule to push for more ACA enrollment within the Lone Star state. She has made at least four visits to Texas for ACA outreach and enrollment and education related events since December 20, 2013.
"I’m sure [she was aware],” Medrano said when asked if Sebelius knew about the event at the Mexican Consulate. “We put our events in a database that several organizations are connected to at mainly HHS, so they are fully aware of who was here.”
Medrano says that Sebelius has not visited South Texas yet but Obama Small Business Administrator Yolanda Garcia Olivarez did make an appearance at the consulate during the fair and “met with the consul so it was an event that was driven by that presence as well." Olivarez also made a visit that day to the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce to promote SBA programs.
Olivares told Brownsville’s Action 4 News, "If they don’t meet the deadline they've lost the opportunity to have and to have coverage of affordable health care."
The fair was one of two events (the other was at the McAllen Convention Center) where ACA navigators are scouring the Rio Grande Valley to enroll Latino individuals into the government health care program.