Immigrant & Refugee Justice
Washington’s immigrant and refugee communities are a vital part of our state’s culture and economy. Immigrants are our neighbors, our family members and our friends. Poverty Action believes that all people living in Washington, regardless of their immigration status, should be able to experience safety and security, meet their basic needs, and have access to opportunity.
Basic Need Programs Serving Immigrants & Refugees
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash assistance, medical coverage, and work supports to refugee families with children.
Poverty Action Priority: 1) Restore the TANF grant to its 2011 level, 2) Remove TANF life time limit, 3) Expand the TANF maximum grant standard from 8 to 10 family members, 4) Improve educational and vocational training opportunities for TANF families
The State Family Assistance (SFA) program provides cash assistance, medical coverage, and work supports to low-income immigrant families with children who do not qualify for federal TANF funds. Some of these families have been in the United States for less than five years, some are from the Marshall Islands where the United States once conducted nuclear weapon testing, and some have fled persecution, but are not eligible for refugee status.
Poverty Action Priorities: 1) Restore the SFA grant to its 2011 level, 2) Remove SFA life time limit, 3) Expand the SFA maximum grant standard from 8 to 10 family members, 4) Improve educational and vocational training opportunities for SFA families
The State Food Assistance (SFA) program helps low-income immigrant families who are not yet eligible for federal food assistance avoid hunger by providing subsidies to help purchase food.
Poverty Action Priority: Restore 50% cut to the State Food Assistance program so that the benefit level is equivalent to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Aged, Blind, and Disabled program provides elderly immigrants who do not qualify for federal Social Security with medical coverage and a $197 per month cash grant. The cash grant helps recipients pay for housing and essential health and hygiene items.
Poverty Action Priority: Increase the ABD grant for disabled adults and elderly immigrants
The Apple Health for Kids program provides free health care for all children in families below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and subsidized health care for children in families between 200% and 300% FPL, regardless of their immigration status.
Poverty Action Priority: Reduce Apple Health premium for undocumented immigrant children so that it is equivalent to other children’s premium
The Basic Health Plan provides subsidized health coverage to 35,000 people, including documented immigrants, whose family income is below 133% the Federal Poverty Level. Since 2009, 70,000 people have lost their Basic Health Plan coverage due to budget cuts, including undocumented immigrants who are no longer eligible to enroll in the Basic Health Plan. As of 2012, more than 150,000 people are on the Plan’s waiting list.
Poverty Action Priority: Restore funding to the Basic Health Plan and remove immigration status from the eligibility criteria
Opportunities for Immigrants & Refugees to Prosper
The New Americans Program assists immigrants in becoming U.S. citizens by providing naturalization services and free legal clinics.
Poverty Action Priority: Restore recent funding cuts to the New Americans Program
The Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Pathway program provides English as a Second Language instruction and employment services, such skills training and job placement assistance, to refugees and WorkFirst parents whose first language is not English.
Poverty Action Priority: Expand educational and vocational educational opportunities available to LEP Pathway participants