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Legislation to expand benefits to immigrants introduced

The act aims to restore access to critical aid programs for Green Card holders, DACA recipients, individuals granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and other lawfully present immigrants

U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Tony Cárdenas, and U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono have introduced the Lifting Immigrant Families Through Benefits Access Restoration (LIFT the BAR) Act, aimed at removing barriers to federal public benefits for immigrants.

According a news release, the act seeks to eliminate the current five-year waiting period for access to Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

In doing so, it aims to restore access to these critical aid programs for Green Card holders, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, individuals granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and other lawfully present immigrants.

“As an immigrant who came to this country alone at the age of 16, I’m proud to be leading this legislation to finally eliminate cruel, xenophobic, and unreasonable barriers to health care, nutrition assistance, and other life-changing public benefits,” said Indian American Congresswoman Jayapal. “Immigrants and families should not have to wait to access these basic services. The LIFT the BAR Act is an urgent, necessary, and just step towards ensuring we treat immigrants with the respect they deserve.”

In 1996, Congress enacted legislation that imposed a five-year waiting period for immigrants with lawful status to access important benefits and services. According to estimates for 2024, non-elderly immigrants, who are in the age range of 0 to 64 years, are projected to make up around 8 per cent of the population. However, despite their relatively small share of the population, they are expected to account for approximately 31 per cent of the non-elderly uninsured population.

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