Illegal immigrants live on hope -- not benefits

Illegal immigrants survive without the help of government benefits.
Illegal immigrants survive without the help of government benefits.
They are called “dreamers.” They are illegal immigrants brought to this country as children and granted work permits to stay in the country through a program of President Barack Obama's administration.

      This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the planned end of the program -- a decision that Obama referred to as “cruel.”
      Roughly 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants received work permits and deportation relief through the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Trump administration is phasing the program out over the next six months and asking Congress to provide a replacement.
     This latest action will further isolate illegal immigrants. Once they make it to the United States, they must survive with the help of friends, family and religious institutions. Here is the rundown:

ARE THEY ELIGIBLE FOR FOOD STAMPS? No. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP,is available for U.S. citizens or “an eligible, lawfully-present non-citizen,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the program. “Non-citizens who are eligible based on their immigration status must also satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and resource limits to receive SNAP benefits.”

CAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS GET SOCIAL SECURITY? No. But,a non-citizen may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if he or she meets the requirements of the laws for non–citizens that went into effect on Aug. 22, 1996,” according to the Social Security Administration. That is when the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 -- welfare reform -- was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Beginning on that date, “most non-citizens must meet two requirements to be potentially eligible for SSI:

  • They must be in a qualified non-citizen category;

  • They must meet a condition that allows qualified non-citizens to get SSI.

    Examples include a refugee or someone granted asylum. See more on the government website.

CAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS GET MEDICAL CARE? To begin with, hospitals that receive federal funding are required to treat emergency cases, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. So if a pregnant woman walks in, for example, the hospital will deliver the baby.
      But in general, illegal immigrants don’t qualify for benefits such as Medicaid and Medicare.
      Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, “lawfully present” immigrants can qualify for coverage through the health insurance marketplace.
      But some “qualified non-citizens” who meet state income and residency rules are eligible for Medicaid (a program of medical aid for those unable to afford insurance, financed by the state and federal governments) and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), according to the website.
       The website offers examples of qualified non-citizens:
  • Lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders);
  • Asylees;
  • Refugees;
  • Cuban/Haitian entrants;
  • Paroled into the U.S. for at least one year;
  • Conditional entrant granted before 1980;
  • Battered non-citizens, spouses, children or parents;
  • Victims of trafficking and his or her spouse, child, sibling or parent, or individuals with a pending application for a victim of trafficking visa;
  • Granted withholding of deportation;
  • Member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or American Indian born in Canada.

CAN THEY ATTEND U.S. SCHOOLS? Yes. Children who are illegal immigrants can attend public schools. A 1982 Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, tossed out a Texas law withholding state funds for the education of children not legally admitted into the country. The court found the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
    The equal protection clause “prohibits states from denying any person within its territory the equal protection of the laws,” according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

      To know more:


      Child refugees: U.S. on wrong side of history

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