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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.

Before dawn this morning, the U.S. Senate convened in a snowstorm and passed by a vote of 88-10 a bill authorizing money for next year’s defense spending.

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.

2 Responses to “Iraqis with SIVs get same welfare perks as regular refugees”

  1. Yasir said

    To Whom It May Concern

    My name is Yasir A.T. and I’m Iraqi immigrant came to United States in July 7th, 2009 with the
    SIV program as an Iraqi translator who worked for the U.S. Army in Iraq.It is not my choice to come to the states ,it was an urgent matter to leave that place after several threatenning upon my life and my family and after my brother killed by a silent pisstols 4 kilometers from the U.S. Army base he was working for and everything was indicating that I’m going to be the next.

    I beleived that I’m going to have the assistant I’ve been promissed by who ever greated this program ,to start a new life in your countrey .That beleife came to me from all the forms and instructions that I downloaded from the U.S.Embassy (Baghdad-Iraq) regarding this program.Truelly this what makes me made my decision to leave my countrey after I spent five years in the U.S. millitary bases and camps , after I lost two members of my family due to the last war and after my life ruined over there .

    I did’t have any sponsor,family member or a friend in the United States , the RPC choosed Sacramento -California as my resettling place.

    As a part of my application to accuire the SIV Visa ,I submited a form called – refugee resetlement ellection form- to make use of the department of satates resettleing and placement program.The CWS organiztion or the other one here in Sacramento ,CA (The Openning Doors INC) is the one who suppose to help me or guide me after my arrival to this city as coperative agreement of the U.S. Dept of State and the Affiliate agency (The Opening Doors INC) in Sacramento.

    I had found this after six months from the date I arrived to my final destination which I don’t know
    how or who was decided by :

    1.The cash assistant is $320 ,my rent is $575 , the electricity bill is about ($20 to $35)and the landline
    phone bill was 47$ a month for the first 3 months.To make the life easier for the Openning Doors INC
    ,we were lucky to have roomates from the same countrey and we speeking the same language and
    of course to make the rent and the bills payable.But even so with a simple math you can see the money
    is not enogh and if there is a cash left,it is not enough to buy a toothpast or aliquid cleaner to clean with it or anything the human beings daily needed and canot buy it by the the food stamps.

    2.My first and new residency in the States after I arrived is as follows:It is unhealthly as you can see
    in the attached picture ,It is not safe so that everyday the police arresting someone in our apartments comlex and with more than one having a house arrest bracelet arround his ankle,all the refugee families
    leaving theses apartments after a maximum period of a month.To moving we all needed the apartment
    diposite to pay it to who ever lease me an apartment here ,but I can’t have it.It’s the Opening Doors INC decision to give the diposite to some people and not to other ones .How they choose? I don’t know.

    3.This program says I’m going to receive a teaching and useful information about America which is cool because when I came here I didn’t know how to mail a letter to someone here or there
    .Where I came from we don’t have that kind of services.
    Instead the Opennig Doors INC enrolled me in some Engish school for bigginners and most
    of it are lessons of haw can you play a stupid game called HangMan,but gues what I’m an English-
    Arabic translator and originaly I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering science ,ok it’s from Iraq ,but still I can read and write enogh to get hired or apply for a job required the English language

    4.Everybody said the maine goal for you to do in the USA is to find a job ….but how ? As the first moment my feet touched the ground in Sacramento Airport till now everybody keep telling me this : there are no jobs , nobody hiring anyone , starts with the one who was waiting for me in the airport and everybody I had met in sacramento especially those who called themselves a job developers.

    5.They enrolled me , well it’s the same English school but with other thing too called Job Fair,
    or something else,the only thing these guys know is there are no jobs and especially for you cause
    we get tired from finding jobs for a specific Iraqis starts attending this school lately ,Iraqis I don’t know them but I don’t know how it comes to be my problem.The only thing in the past five months they taught people was how to buttone their shirts and how to wear a neck tie.They are funny guys cause for the past five months I never noticed a single employee among the school staff wearing a nick tie.

    6.There are some issue with the Sacramento ,CA computer systems that stops giving an answer why a refugee like me elligible for health care don’t have a health plan and can’t get to visit a doctor after six months of re submitting the paper work ,the same paperwork the one choosing a health plan and a primary doctor with it for FIVE times in SIX months. I have a health issue that discovered by the refugee health clinic here in Sac ,after a full body examination and vaccination required from everybody new in this city.It starts with a small symptom finally developed to an emergency forced
    me to admit an emergency department in the closest hospital to my location and for two times.Till now don’t know how to deal with it or who can help me and this is what makes me write you this letter.

    7.I had met the Openning Doors INC director Mr.David Blicker after I couldn’t have the answers to my
    questions from his employees or the the Sacramento County DHA ,to complaining to him about what
    do I do here and whay his organization accepted to resetle me in this city? Is it true that I have to
    buy a car to increase my chance finding a job ? Why they enrolled me in that school(The Bach Viet Association) which is getting paid helping me but they are not unless I’m a Russian or an Asian or a spanish ? Everybody getting hired by that school and they are not even a refugees and not a single Iraqi got hired unless he or she is involving with an intimate relationship with one of that school staff?

    Mr. David Blicker told me and advised me to do the following

    A.I have to play games with the job placement school (Bach Viet) to increase my chance finding a job.
    B.Finding a job in America is all about a relationships and referals .
    C.Nobody staying in Sacramento , everybody comes here soon will leave after maybe four months later.
    indicating that this city is not the one for me and maybe should I go somewhere else.
    D.I can contact the RPC,CWS,IOM,NVC and the Department of Satates to find out what I’m doing here.
    Who sent me to such a city with obviously no futre for an Iraqi refugee.

    I had tried to find a job and going to an interviews here and there in this city ,and I failed .I don’t know why .I don’t have any job history in the United States .I don’t have any referals .I don’t have a car and I don’t know how drive one.I don’t have money .I’m ignorant in your country.

    I know there is the global economy crisis and it is effecting upon everybody here and I really apreciate
    the efforts of the State Department and the cash and food stamps beeing giving to us by your government
    I know the resetling and placement program says if your friend or family member receiving some benefit
    in another state ,that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same where you are .But in Sacramento ,CA we don’t get the necesary help.

    I’ll go back to Iraq and takeing my chances there.But please before that I wish if somebody can respond and answer these questions and if you can’t ,please tell me who does ?

    Why I didn’t know the full information from your immigration and embassy websites ?
    Why there are incompitant employees getting paid from your government or chairty organizations without
    doing anything?
    Why do someone like me has to play games to get a job ? Are we in a good mode to play games?
    Why do the governement of CA gives cash and food stamps for several months to refugees like me with
    no goal?
    What the mystery behind my health plan application?



  2. liz said

    SIV’s worked for the U.S. We would not have been able to fight in Iraq without them. What’s the big deal???? Do they not deserve any thanks for their service, the killing of family members, and burned down homes? All because they worked and fought along side the US military?


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