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Access to Public Benefits for Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence

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					      Access to Public Benefits for
    Immigrant Survivors of Domestic
               Violence

                     Economic Justice Institute
                                          June 7, 2005
                           Atty. Yer Vang
                Immigrant Project of Wisconsin (IPW)

*The following information was adapted from the Building Communities to Improve Services to Immigrant Victims of Sexual
  Assault, Domestic Violence & Trafficking Conference, Albuquerque, NM- December 2004. Legal Momentum, Breaking

                                               Barriers & OVW Training.
 What is an immigrant’s reality?
Depending on these factors:
  – Immigration status
  – Educational level
  – Cultural background
  – Whether she has children or not
  – Language
  – Geographic location
                  Roadmap
•   Overview of barriers
•   Overview of Attorney General’s list
•   Overview of eligibility requirements
•   Overview qualified alien
•   VAWA relief for battered immigrants
•   Additional considerations in public benefits
Scenario:
Elena is from the Philippines and has a son,
Paolo who was born in the Philippines. Elena
and her son entered the United States in 1996.
Since living in the US, Elena has had another
child, Amy. Elena has suffered emotional
abuse from the first day of marriage. However,
this past year, the abuse has escalated to
physical violence.
What are some of the barriers Elena may
encounter when accessing services if:

  – Elena leaves her abuser?

  OR

  – Elena stays with her abuser?
What economic options do Elena and her
children have for help and assistance?

-What are probably some of Elena’s fears?


-What are probably some of Elena’s needs?
Barriers to Access

•   Fear of deportation
•   Communication barriers due to LEP
•   Fear of public charge
•   Concern of being reported to INS
•   Confusion over eligibility rules
•   Concern about sponsorship of family
    members
Benefits to all immigrants regardless of
immigration status*
• Crisis counseling and intervention
• Child and adult protective services
• Violence and abuse services
• Victim assistance and/or compensation (depending on state
  law)
• Treatment of mental illness or substance abuse
• Soup kitchens (food pantries)



*A.G. Order No. 2353-2001, Jan 5, 2001. 66 Fed. Reg. 3,613-16
(Jan. 16, 2001).
 Attorney General’s list of required
 services, continued…
• Short term shelter and housing assistance
  for homeless, victims of domestic violence,
  or for runaway, abused children (includes
  emergency shelter and transitional housing
  up to two years
• Nutrition programs for those requiring special
  assistance
AG’s list continued….
• Community programs not conditioned on
  income
• Elementary and secondary education
• School lunch and WIC
• Short term, non-cash emergency disaster
  relief
• Immunizations, testing and treatment of
  communicable diseases
• Emergency Medicaid
Emergency Medicaid, explained….
• Available only in cases where the person
  needs treatment for medical condition with
  acute symptoms that could:
  – Place the patient’s health in serious jeopardy;
  – Result in serious impairment of bodily
    functions; OR
  – Cause dysfunction in bodily organ or part


Note: any cash related assistance is not
 permitted
Mixed Status Families
-1 in 5 (20%) children in the U.S. is the native or foreign born
child of an immigrant

*A new analysis by Urban Institute researchers Michael Fix
and Wendy Zimmermann finds that most children in immigrant
families are citizens. As a result, 85 percent of all immigrant
families are mixed-status families, that is, families in which at
least one parent is a noncitizen and one child is a citizen.

*According to the report, All Under One Roof: Mixed-Status
Families in an Era of Reform, one in ten U.S. children lives in
a mixed-status family. In New York City, twenty-seven percent
of all children live in a mixed-status family; in Los Angeles,
close to half of all children live in such families
Advocacy tip: In some states, an immigrant parent may
apply for benefits for her US citizen or LPR child, even if
she, herself, does not qualify for the benefit

Advocacy tip: Immigrant parents applying for benefits
only for their eligible children, should not answer to
questions about their own immigration status

Advocacy tip: Despite the above advocacy point above,
in some states, even if a child qualifies for child care
benefits, a parent who is not a ‘qualified alien’ is not eligible
to apply on behalf of her child
(ie. Wisconsin’s child care benefits)

Advocacy tip: If possible, advocates are encourage to
accompany immigrants to interviews with economic
benefits specialist.
 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
 Reconciliation Act of 1996

• Changes enacted through the 1996 welfare reform
  legislation resulted in eligibility for most public
  benefits is based on the following:
  – Qualified versus non-qualified immigrant status (these
    categories were created specifically and apply solely for
    public benefits purposes)
  – An immigrants date of entry into the U.S. now matters,
    specifically date to consider is August 22, 1996
  – Prior to PRWORA legislation, most lawfully present
    immigrants were eligible for federal benefits
    What does qualified alien mean?

•   Lawful permanent residents (LRP)
•   Refugees and asylees
•   Cuban/Haitian entrants
•   Veterans
•   Amerasians
•   Persons granted conditional entry
•   Persons paroled into the U.S. for a year or more
•   Persons granted withholding of deportation or
    cancellation of removal
     Qualified Alien defined, continued…..
• Persons who have been battered or subject
  to extreme cruelty by USC/ LPR spouse or
  parent, with a pending or approved VAWA
  self-petition or family based petition with
  Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS)
           Would Elena qualify?
Elena is from Philippines and has a son, Paolo
Who was born in the Philippines. Elena and
her son entered the United States in 1996.
Since living in the US, Elena has had another
child, Amy. Elena has suffered emotional
abuse from the first day of marriage. However,
this past year, the abuse has escalated to
physical violence.
Q: What additional information would you need
from Elena?
Q: What services can Elena qualify for regardless of her
immigration status?
 What group does this exclude and who is a
 non-qualified immigrant?

• Undocumented immigrants, entered without
  inspection (EWI) or overstayed visa
• Immigrants who are present lawfully with:
  – Employment visas, temporary protected status,
    lawful temporary residents, family unity status,
    suspensions of deportations, tourists visas,
    student visas, and U visa interim relief
Is an immigrant victim of domestic
violence a qualified alien?

Yes, IF:
  –victim has been battered or
   subjected to extreme cruelty by
   USC or LPR spouse or parent
Advocacy tip: How to prove that she is
a qualified alien.
• Prima facie determination
• Approved VAWA self-petition or VAWA
  cancellation of removal
• Approved visa petition filed by abusive
  spouse or parent
What is a prima facie determination?

• To prove a prima facie determination, you
  must demonstrate ‘any credible evidence’
  (some evidence) of seven requirements
  for a VAWA self petition.
What are the 7 requirements?

• Abuser’s immigration status (USC or LPR)
• Battery OR Extreme Cruelty
• Reside in the U.S./abused in the U.S. or spouse
  works for the U.S. government
• Married/formerly married to USC or LPR
• Good Faith Marriage
• Good Moral Character
• Residence with the Abuser
Would Elena be eligible for any
immigration relief?
Scenario:
Elena is from Philippines and has a son, Paolo who
was born in the Philippines. Elena and her son
entered the United States in 1996. Since living in
the US, Elena has had another child, Amy. Elena
has suffered emotional abuse from the first day of
marriage. However, this past year, the abuse
has escalated to physical violence.
Potential Immigration Remedies for
immigrant survivors
Affirmative Applications:
  -VAWA Self Petition
  -Conditional Resident Waivers
  -U Visa (victims of crime)
  -T Visa (victims of human trafficking)
Defensive Applications:
  -Cancellation of Removal/Suspension of
  Deportation
  -Asylum/Gender Asylum
 ADVANCED Economic Issues to consider
 for immigrant survivors
If an immigrant survivor is a ‘qualified alien’
and she entered before 8/22/96, what
benefits can she be eligible to access?
   -Federal means tested benefits (5):
   *TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
   *Medicaid
   *Food Stamps
   *SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program)
   *Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
ADVANCED ISSUE: FIVE YEAR BAR
• Due to the 1996 welfare reform law, qualified
  aliens, including battered immigrants that enter
  the US after 8/22/96, are ineligible for ‘federal
  means tested public benefits’ for five years after
  entering the country (includes TANF, Food
  Stamps, Medicaid and SSI).
• Certain immigrants are not subject to the bar:
  amerasians, asylee/refugees, Cubans/Haitian
  entrants, immigrants granted withholding of
  deportation and victims of trafficking.
ADVANCED ISSUE: PUBLIC CHARGE
• An immigrant who has become, or who is
  likely to become, primarily dependent on
  the government for subsistence
• Applies prospective/forward looking
  determination
• To obtain lawful permanent residency, a
  battered immigrant must NOT be a public
  charge
What benefits affect the public charge
determination?
• Public cash assistance for income
  maintenance
• Institutionalization for long term care at
  government’s expense
• SSI, TANF, state and local cash assistance
  for income maintenance, gov’t paid cost for
  institutionalized long term care
 NOTE: Food Stamps
In May 2002, the Farm Bill Act was passed
to restore eligibility for three groups of
immigrants for Food Stamps:
  - qualified immigrant children under 18,
  regardless of date of entry
  - qualified immigrant who receive a disability
  benefit, regardless of date of entry
  - qualified immigrants living in the US for 5
  years
Application of economic issues for battered
immigrants

Scenario:
Elena is from Philippines and has a son, Paolo who
was born in the Philippines. Elena and her son
entered the United States in 1996. Since living in the
US, Elena has had another child, Amy. Elena has
suffered emotional abuse from the first day of
marriage. However, this past year, the abuse
has escalated to physical violence.
- What other information do you need to
determine Elena’s eligibility for benefits?

*Does it matter if Elena entered the US in
  February or October of 1996?

*Does it matter if Elena’s husband is a USC
  or LPR or other immigration status?

				
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