Many immigrant fam-ilies hesitate to apply for government-subsidised health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law, worried that providing personal information could draw the attention of immigration authorities and lead to deportation.
Immigrants who are in the United States illegally cannot participate in the system, but many have eligible relatives who are citizens or legal residents.
Immigrant families are important to the success of the health care overhaul, Obama's most significant domestic achievement.
Immigrant advocates and the US government have been working to reassure families that their information will not be shared with enforcement agencies. The effort has led to changes in the main health care website and a memo from immigration authorities promising not to go after anyone based on insurance paperwork.
Still, some families remain so concerned that they would rather see loved ones go without coverage than risk giving personal information to a federal agency.Adonias Arevalo spent days trying to calm his parents' nerves about personal information that would appear on his application. After a week of discussion, the 22-year-old Houston man, who works at a community centre and has temporary legal status, finally eased their fears.
"They are afraid," said Arevalo, whose parents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador seven years ago. "The majority of families, they know it's something they need to do. ... They're just afraid of putting themselves out like that."