Immigrants represent 11 percent of the total U.S population but make up 14 percent of the U.S labor force and 20 percent of the nation’s low wage labor force (Capps, Fix, Henderson, & Reardon-Anderson, 2003). These percentages show the financial struggle many immigrant families must face due to such low wages. Due to the federal welfare and immigration laws passed in 1996 and subsequent legislation, much confusion has risen regarding eligibility for public benefits for qualified immigrants that has caused a drop-in participation of immigrants in public benefit programs like TANF or SNAP. That is why, I find it extremely necessary that the U.S Department of Human Services requires proper training to benefit agencies such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplementary Nutrition Assistance for Needy Families (SNAP) on the eligibility rules for immigrants who fall under the category of “qualified” under the 1996 welfare law in every individual state.
There is much debate and different view points on whether immigrants should receive social welfare benefits or not. The truth is that immigrants work hard for their money and if “qualified” should have the same access to benefits as a U.S citizen. The following is a short clip about what politics have to say about immigrants and welfare. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXoQBW53i1w
Due to the lack of training of social welfare benefit agencies many immigrants have decided to stop using benefits they qualify for. Some agencies misinform immigrants that if they seek or apply for benefits they may be considered a public charge. Rosa who is an immigrant who used SNAP has stopped using it because she fears it my lead to her deportation. Now she is faced with financial hardship. Here is her story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwgiE4IUhZA
I find it urgent that by April of 2019 there be a training established that can roll out and be provided to employees of public service agencies that trains them on the general and state rules and regulations of qualification requirements for qualified immigrants, so that they can know how to inform qualified immigrants of the benefits they qualify for. The HHS should fund training development and implementation. This can be done by employing a group of professionals that will develop a training program that will include modules of laws, rules and regulations, eligibility history, and state policies regarding benefit eligibility. Employees should pass an exam at the end of training to certify they’re capability to in a social welfare agency.
The following link takes you to the story of Jose Escobar and the Rodriguez family. Jose Escobar was deported leaving behind his wife and two kids. The Rodriguez family is also days away from losing their father as he gets deported back to El Salvador. These families are left without a primary provider for their family and now more than ever they will need access to social welfare benefits. These families should be able to apply without receiving misinformation from public welfare benefit agencies or getting turned away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9YAYMqoM1A
Organizations such as National Immigration Law Center and Immigration Legal Resources Center strive to help immigrants who are faced by these limitations. They inform clients of their rights and eligibility to resources. The mission of Immigration Legal Resources Center is “To work with and educate immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people.”
Qualified immigrants need to be properly informed of their eligibility for welfare benefits.