WASHINGTON— The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) recently confirmed in a written memo that immigrants can apply for health coverage under the health reform law (known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare) without fear of immigration enforcement. Effectively, this means that applying for coverage for yourself or on behalf of an eligible family member, and sharing immigration status, will not put an individual at risk for deportation or any enforcement proceedings.

The announcement provides welcome relief and clarity for families such as undocumented parents with citizen children and other households with mixed-immigration statuses who have held off applying for coverage under health reform. ICE will only use information provided on the health insurance application to verify immigration status in order to determine eligibility for financial assistance in the Marketplace, Medicaid or CHIP.

Without this assurance, and despite protections already contained in health reform, many health justice advocates feared that eligible immigrant families would forgo health coverage, denying affordable health insurance for those who are eligible. To help allay these fears, the federal government has also created a new page to help immigrants understand what the Marketplace means for them. APIAHF’s FAQ provides answers to common questions immigrants face when applying for coverage.

APIAHF and its community partners are working across the country, urging eligible individuals and families to find out their coverage options and enroll in coverage before the March 31, 2014 deadline. Visit APIAHF’s Health Care For Me website for resources to help Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make the most of health reform.