Iraqis with SIVs get same welfare perks as regular refugees
Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 26, 2009
Once again using a favored method of putting something through the Senate (and House), we have the Defense Authorization legislation that passed in the Senate on December 19th (during the great Washington snowstorm of 2009) with an amendment that puts Iraqis entering the US with Special Immigrant Visas on par with impoverished refugees from all over the world to receive taxpayer funded benefits.
You might want to visit the State Department website that explains the SIVs for Iraqis that was passed into law last year on the Defense authorization bill in the dark of night thanks to Ted Kennedy.
This is from The List Project’s blog about the most recent sneakiness (among other sneaky moves) of the Senate.
When the President signs this year’s Defense Appropriations bill into law, thousands of Iraqi SIVs will have cause to celebrate. That’s because the bill eliminates the disparity between federal public benefits available to SIVs and those available refugees.
Until now, SIVs have been eligible for roughly the same assistance as refugees during their first 6-8 months in the United States. Under current law, however, most SIVs become ineligible for federal public benefits at the end of their eighth month in the United States. This ineligibility continues for five years.* By contrast, refugees, asylees, immigrants who are spared deportation under the Convention Against Torture, and Cuban or Haitian entrants are not subject to the so-called “five-year bar.”
This morning’s bill eliminates the 5-year bar for our Iraqi and Afghan SIV allies. Specifically, it makes Iraqi and Afghan SIVs eligible for federal public benefits “to the same extent, and for the same periods of time, as refugees.” (.pdf p.119)
Special thanks are in order to Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who apparently got this change added on July 30, 2009, (see “Congress Expands…”), and to all other elected officials, staff, and advocates who helped make this vital change a reality.
* This five-year bar from getting on welfare (aka public assistence) is why it is so popular to be a refugee or asylee. Other legal immigrants are not allowed to access welfare for five years.
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