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ObamaCare and Deportations, a Difficult Mix

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When we read about President Obama’s efforts to pass immigration reform since he took office, and then we read about the two million immigrants that have been deported during his administration, it simply does not make sense. How can a President who fights so hard to update the law and legalize immigrants in the US be purposefully separating families? How can he be deporting the same people he is supposed to help to help stay here legally? Something is wrong here.

During a television interview with Univision, the world’s largest Spanish-speaking network, back in October 2010, President Obama vowed to push for immigration changes. Still, the Obama administration deported about 410,000 people in 2012, 369,000 more in 2013, and in February 2014, Congress was asked to approve funds in the amount of $2.6 billion for ICE to identify, stop, and deport even more undocumented immigrants in 2015.

President Obama has blamed the high number of deportees on Congress, which doubled the number of ICE agents and border patrol along the Mexican border, but the fact remains that deportations under the Obama administration could be a determining enrollment factor under the new Affordable Care Act.

During another interview with Univision in March 2014, President Obama promised that the Affordable Care Act would not be used as an excuse to target undocumented relatives of legal immigrants who signed up at CuidadoDeSalud.gov (the Spanish version of ObamaCare) through the information they posted online. In fact, according to abcNews The Obama administration declared that it is not keeping statistics on the race and ethnicity of those signing up in the insurance exchanges.

Still, Hispanics are suspicious, and to add insult to injury, the online Spanish version of the Affordable Care Act contains a sloppy translation, something that has put off even more of the 10.2 million uninsured Hispanics (which represent one third of the total uninsured in the US). No one within the Obama administration seems to have taken the trouble to take into account – again --the inherent cultural aspects that affects enrollment.

The slowness and hesitancy displayed by Hispanics to sign up for the new medical system is to be expected when you understand that Latin Americans are very high in the uncertainty-avoidance index, a measurement developed by Dutch scientist Geert Hofstede to understand the differences between cultures around the world.

Hispanics are always cautious and wary to jump in with both feet into new and ambiguous situations. And the new national overhaul offering subsidized medical coverage is certainly unchartered waters, so they are taking their time. If you add to that a poorly translated website, and the growing threat of deportation, Hispanics will definitely think twice before putting all their personal information into the new data system.

According to Pew Research Center, three out of five Hispanics do support the new health care overhaul, but perhaps the approach to advertise the new medical website should have been different – and better researched. The increasingly high number or deportations, combined with the language and technical problems on the website, are not helping to convince Hispanics to register under the Affordable Care Act.

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