VAWA and Federal SNAP Benefits

The eligibility rules for SNAP are very complicated and sometimes require the advice of an advocate.

In June of 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture published a sixty-two-page guidance document on this matter entitled “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Guidance on Non-Citizen Eligibility.”

This document states that although many non-citizens are eligible for SNAP, the participation among non-citizen households is historically low. This is probably due to a lack of knowledge concerning their eligibility for the program.

If you are a “Qualified Alien,” then you may be eligible to receive SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps.

“Qualified Alien” is a technical term that means an individual who meets the specific definition of ―qualified alien‖ found at 7 CFR 273.4(a)(5)(i), which includes lawful permanent residents, asylees, refugees, parolees, individuals granted withholding of deportation or removal, conditional entrants, Cuban or Haitian entrants, battered aliens, and alien victims of a severe form of trafficking. See also PRWORA, 8 U.S.C. § 1641. The term qualified alien is not itself an immigration status, but includes a collection of immigration statuses. It is a term used for Federal public benefits purposes.

Full restoration of SNAP eligibility to certain noncitizens was a top priority under The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Public Law 107-171, commonly referred to as the 2002 Farm Bill. The 2002 Farm Bill broadly restored SNAP eligibility to most lawfully present non-citizens, including individuals who resided in the United States for five years, children under 18, and individuals receiving disability-related assistance or benefits.

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, limits eligibility for SNAP benefits to U.S citizens and certain lawfully present non-citizens. Generally, a non-citizen must be a qualified alien as defined in Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in order to be eligible for SNAP. Non-citizens like tourists and students are generally not eligible. Individuals who are eligible based on their immigration status must also satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and resource limits.

 

There are some categories of non-citizens who are eligible for SNAP who do not have to meet the 5-year residency requirement or have 40 qualifying quarters of work. The following chart describes those who are eligible without a waiting period and without having to meet one additional condition:

 

No Waiting Period or Additional Condition Needed to be Eligible for SNAP
Refugees
Victims of severe trafficking
Asylees or Deportation Withheld
Amerasians
Cuban and Haitian entrants
Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants
Certain American Indians born abroad
Hmong or Highland Laotian tribal members
Qualified Alien children under 18
Individuals receiving benefits or assistance for blindness or disability1
Elderly who were lawfully residing in the U.S. and 65 or older on August 22, 1996
Military

 

A battered non-citizen under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a qualified alien if he or she meets the following 4 requirements:

 

1) The battered non-citizens must show that he/she has an approved or pending petition which makes a prima facie case for immigration status in one of the following categories:

 

1) a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) filed by their spouse or the child’s parent;

 

2) a Form I-130 petition as a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen;

 

3) a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (including those filed by a            parent on behalf of an abused child); or

4) an application for cancellation of removal or suspension of deportation filed as a victim of domestic violence; and

 

2) The non-citizen, the non-citizens child or the non-citizen child’s parent has been abused in the United States under one of the following circumstances:

 

  •             The non-citizen has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S. by a spouse    or parent of the non-citizen, or

 

  •             by a member of the spouse’s or parent’s family residing in the same household if the  spouse or parent consents to or acquiesces in the battery or cruelty; or

 

  •             The non-citizen’s child has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S. by a     spouse or parent of the non-citizen, or by a member of the spouse’s or parent’s family     residing in the same household if the spouse or parent consents to the battery or cruelty,      and the non-citizen did not actively participate in the battery or cruelty; or

 

  •             The parent of a non-citizen child has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the  United States by the parent’s spouse, or by a member of the spouse’s family residing in  the same household as the parent, if the spouse consents to or acquiesces in such battery  or cruelty; AND

 

3) There is a substantial connection between the battery or extreme cruelty and the need       for the public benefit sought; AND

 

4) The battered non-citizen, child, or parent no longer resides in the same household as the abuser.

 

 

There are no time limits for how long eligible non-citizens can receive SNAP. Qualified alien children under 18 are automatically eligible without a waiting period. Even if non-citizen parents may not be eligible themselves, they can apply for their children.[1]

 

State agencies must still determine eligibility for SNAP for any remaining household members who are seeking assistance.[2] States may not deny an entire household just because a non-citizen member is ineligible due to his or her immigration status.

[2] 7 CFR 273.11(c)

 

Excerpt from the United States Department of Agriculture guidance document on this matter entitled “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Guidance on Non-Citizen Eligibility.”

 

For more information, contact the benefits office in your state. See also the following:

 

https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/national-origin/domestic-violence/index.html

http://library.niwap.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/PB-BchCrd-VAWAEligibilityProcess-04.17.13.pdf

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“Righteous Dopefiend”

“Righteous Dopefiend” by Philippe Bourgois and  Jeffrey Schonberg “interweaves stunning black-and-white photographs with vivid dialogue, detailed field notes, and critical theoretical analysis. Its gripping narrative develops a cast of characters around the themes of violence, race relations, sexuality, family trauma, embodied suffering, social inequality, and power relations. The result is a dispassionate chronicle of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the addicts’ determination to hang on for one more day and one more “fix” through a “moral economy of sharing” that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.”

 

Parallel this portrayal with the current situation in Haiti. Recently, the U.S. DEA was under fire for a Panamanian flagged cargo-ship that made its way to a Haitian port.

According to the Miami Herald, “The sugar boat haul in April 2015 should have been exactly the kind of smuggling operation that DEA agents and Haiti’s narcotics police were prepared to take down.”

 

 

Haiti’s Penal Code

http://www.crijhaiti.com/fr/?page=article_code_penal

 

More on Heroin around the world:

http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/heroin-facts

http://www.unodc.org/pdf/barbados/caribbean_factsheet_heroin_2002.pdf

Taxing the Diaspora

Many countries tax their citizens living abroad. The U.S., for example, generally taxes income the same regardless of where a person resides internationally. Ironically, the Diaspora who seek a revolt against the tax would probably have to pay income tax no matter the country of their citizenship.

One of the issues is Diaspora do not feel confident in where their tax dollars will be spent. They also feel that the average quality of life in Haiti does not support such a high yearly tax. What is “high?”

“10,000 gourdes or $159 annually, depending on the exchange rate — the reaction has been no less vehement. For some 2 million Haitians living abroad, who already contribute $2 billion a year in remittances, essentially doubling the country’s annual budget, the insult is clear.” – Miami Herald

 

 

TPS Follow-up: What to do next

 

I wanted to highlight the following article from the Law Office of Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon, in Orlando and Jacksonville Florida. 

TPS was extended through January 22, 2018, but the site post lists some alternatives for persons to remain in authorized status following that date. Some of these options may include an adjustment of status, asylum, withholding of removal, or cancellation of removal.

Read the article to learn more.

Haiti’s Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.  It provides an opportunity for States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.

Hait’s most recent periodic review occurred in 2011. The National Report document the prominent legal framework in Haiti and their application. A right to food, freedom of expression and further human rights concerns are reviewed.

Below is an excerpt:

Corruption 69. The use of public office for personal gain has existed on a worrying scale in Haiti for several years and has contributed significantly to the lack of respect for the rights of Haitians as a result of the misappropriation of certain resources. Aware of this situation, the Haitian authorities reacted by establishing, in 2004, an anti-corruption unit and by ratifying the United Nations and Inter-American conventions against corruption. This led to the arrest and indictment of two directors-general of autonomous public institutions in 2008 and 2011. H. The housing problem 70. The question of housing, already a serious problem, particularly in large towns, has loomed larger since the earthquake of 12 January 2010. Political instability, lack of urban planning and rural exodus have led to an increasing proliferation of shanty towns in the capital and main provincial cities. Established in the 1980s, the Public Enterprise for the Promotion of Social Housing (EPPLS) has built low-rent housing blocks in several communes, but in insufficient quantity because of its limited resources.

The housing problem 70. The question of housing, already a serious problem, particularly in large towns, has loomed larger since the earthquake of 12 January 2010. Political instability, lack of urban planning and rural exodus have led to an increasing proliferation of shanty towns in the capital and main provincial cities. Established in the 1980s, the Public Enterprise for the Promotion of Social Housing (EPPLS) has built low-rent housing blocks in several communes, but in insufficient quantity because of its limited resources.

 

Read about the Transnational Legal Clinic who took responsibility for drafting a report on labor rights to be used in Haiti’s UPR:

https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/news/1943-transnational-legal-clinic-in-haiti-documenting#.WL2TqxIrK8U

Haiti, an “Island Luminous”

Black History month has passed but there is no time like the present to learn about the first black independent country through a successful revolution, Haiti.

Since 2004, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC) has worked with archives and libraries in Haiti to scan and preserve rare books and manuscripts.

DLOC is the creator of “An Island Luminous,” a site to help readers learn about Haiti’s history available to explore in English, French, and Kreyol. Created by historian Adam M. Silvia and hosted online by Digital Library of the Caribbean, An Island Luminous combines rare books, manuscripts, and photos scanned by archives and libraries in Haiti and the United States with commentary by over one hundred (100) authors from universities around the world.

Work on An Island Luminous started in 2009. Initially titled “Endepandan Ankò,” the site only covered the years 1934 to 1946. In 2010, the site expanded to include all of Haiti’s history.  It also took its new name, “An Island Luminous,” from a poem, “Calme,” by Haitian intellectual Jacques Roumain. Since 2010, we have invited over 100 authors to write commentary on various historical texts and photos.

You can start the tour of Haitian history at http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/learn.html. which will walk you through an engaging series of photos and corresponding facts as pictured below. It is a short tour but packed with great information for beginners and experts alike.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 3.41.43 PM.png

Visit http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/ to learn more. Information taken from the “About” section of the site.

Tackling the Climate Crisis

Children in Haiti hold up signs urging the international community to take action on climate change.

Pictured: Children in Haiti hold up signs urging the international community to take action on climate change.

Formally released in September of 2014 at the United Nations Climate Summit, Tackling the Challenge of Climate Change: A Near-Term Actionable Mitigation Agenda was commissioned by the Republic of Nauru, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and written by 30 leading climate and energy experts from around the world.

 

“. . .the path to the global low-carbon transformation needed to tackle the climate crisis is within reach, but requiresdecisive political action from leaders around the world, now. This paper is unabashedly prescriptive on the need for action, but recognizes that there are multiple approaches and models from around the world that can be scaled up and adapted to national circumstances. Cost-effective technologies for a low-carbon economy are being implemented throughout the world, but at nowhere the scale and speed necessary. Emissions continue to rise. With every year of delay, human suffering, biodiversity loss, and the costs of mitigation and adaptation increase. We are running out of time.”

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF 350.ORG for EarthJustice.org.

Registration now open for national movement conference on overturning mass incarceration

At a time when 100 million Americans are trying to move on from their criminal records, hundreds (and possibly thousands) of people will gather in Oakland, California to address their common struggle with an oppressive criminal justice system. The Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM) is made up of the directly impacted families and communities confronting a system of control; a system that has, itself, grown out of control. This two-day conference (Sept. 9-10) is the latest of many historical markers in the Civil Rights movement and represents the courageous individual and collective journeys among every organizer and participant.

Source: Registration now open for national movement conference on overturning mass incarceration

Scholarships

 

The Flanbwayan tree is  a beautiful tree that grows throughout the island of Haiti. It stands out with its fiery red flowers, for us it is a symbol of strength, patience, and growth.

Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project (Flanbwayan) founded in 2005 is a youth membership-based organization serving newcomer and young adult Haitian immigrant students in New York City who are English Language Learners (ELLs) between the ages of 14 to 21. Flanbwayan provides a safety net for Haitian youth who may possibly fall through the cracks of an overwhelming high school placement process as they enter the New York area, providing much-needed services, including individual education assessments and appropriate school placements. In this project student members have found themselves in a safe space where they discussed issues, share experiences, express their views on education issues, develop outreach efforts to their peers and raise awareness on the need for education reform.

Flanbwayan’s multi-level approach to education, advocacy, organizing and cultural activities provides rigorous learning experiences where students acquire critical thinking, analytical and leadership skills that deepen community ties and cultural understanding. Flanbwayan assumes in order for newcomer immigrant youth to grow and develop they need to have a safe space, equal access to resources and opportunities.

Visit Flanbwyan.org for their scholarship listings.

Please share this link with others!

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What are the legal ramifications for having no home country? and I don’t mean this in the mystifying way exhibited in Games of Thrones character, Arya Stark.

“More than 40,000 people – including several hundred unaccompanied children — have been deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti between August 2015 and May 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Haitian civil society organizations.”

 

These deportations have left these persons stateless.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. While some people are de jure or legally stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens under the laws of any state), many people are de facto or effectively stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens by any state even if they have a claim to citizenship under the laws of one of more states.)

 

International legal instruments related to statelessness include:

• 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 15

 

• 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons

• 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

• 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 24

• 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7

• 1997 European Convention on Nationality

 

The 1954 Convention entered into force on June 6, 1960 provides the definition of a “stateless person” and is the foundation of the international legal framework to address statelessness.

The 1961 Convention is the leading international instrument that sets rules for the conferral and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent statelessness.

The Dominican Republic is not a signatory to this treatise and neither is Haiti.

The Documentary: STATELESS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICtells the stories of statelessness in the Dominican Republic and issues along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.