advocacy with immigrant survivors toolkit

Escape

Safety Alert: If you believe your computer activities are being monitored, please access this site from a safer computer. To immediately exit this site, click the escape button. If you are in immediate danger, contact 911, a local crisis line, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Safety Alert: If you believe your computer activities are being monitored, please access this site from a safer computer. To immediately exit this site, click the escape button. If you are in immediate danger, contact 911, a local crisis line, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Accessing Resources: Public Benefits

Federal benefits: Services “to protect life and safety”

 

The Welfare Reform Act exempts certain programs from (1) any restrictions on immigrant access and (2) from requirements to verify/report the immigration status of any persons who seek or receive program services. Programs that meet these criteria are required to provide services to all persons without regard to their immigration status:[1]

  • Offer in-kind services, which is the provision of goods or services (e.g., food, clothes, shelter, legal assistance, counseling), not cash payments
  • Provide services at the community level
  • Provide services regardless of an individual’s income or resources
  • Are necessary to protect life or safety

 

The US Attorney General, as authorized by the Welfare Reform Act, has determined that programs necessary “to protect life and safety” include, but are not limited to: 
 
  • Crisis counseling and intervention programs 
  • Services and assistance relating to child protection and adult protective services 
  • Violence and abuse prevention 
  • Services to victims of domestic violence or other criminal activity 
  • Short-term shelter or housing assistance (transitional housing for up to two years) for people who are homeless, victims of domestic violence, and runaway, abused, or abandoned children 
  • Programs to help individuals during periods of adverse weather conditions; 
  • Soup kitchens and community food banks
  • Senior nutrition programs and other nutritional programs for persons requiring special assistance 
  • Medical and public health services necessary to protect life or safety
  • Mental health, disability, or substance abuse assistance necessary to protect life and safety
  • Activities designed to protect the life and safety of workers, children, and youths or community residents 
  • Any other programs, services, or assistance necessary for the protection of life or safety
 

In addition, all persons, regardless of immigration status, may be eligible for the following:

  • Programs funded with federal dollars that are not clearly identified as “federal means-tested public benefits” or “federal public benefits” have no immigration restrictions and are fully open to all persons, regardless of immigration status. All persons may receive the program’s services and support, and no immigration questions should be asked.
  • Programs provided by nonprofit charitable organizations, including those that receive federal funds.  Non-profit organizations that receive federal funds are (1) prohibited from discriminating on the basis of national origin, (2) explicitly exempted from immigration status restrictions in the welfare and immigration laws; and (3) not required to determine, verify or otherwise require proof of immigration status under these laws.

 

Tools & Resources

 

Programs open to immigrant victims and all immigrants without regard to immigration status” by the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project and the State Justice Institute.

 

“HHS-funded programs open to all immigrants” (see pages 482-488) in the manual Empowering Survivors: Legal Rights of Immigrant Victims of Sexual Assaultprovides a complete list of all programs funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services that are available to all people, regardless of immigration status.

 


[1] PL 104-193 [The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996].