Since passage of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, non US Citizens and green card holders for less than five years are prohibited from accessing federal benefits including health care tax credits and regular Medicaid. Furthermore the comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate last year goes one step further and would make temporary legal status for the 10 million immigrants here illegally contingent on household financial stability in addition to a plethora of other eligibility requirements. Applicants applying for renewal of their temporary status every six years would need to prove that they have paid federal taxes, been gainfully employed, and would not pose a risk of becoming a public charge, e.g. be able to support themselves. The current congress ends in December giving the Senate bill life for another six months. Despite the trillion dollar savings projected by the Congressional Budget Office, the House of Representatives has refused to take up the Senate bill or consider any meaningful legislation.
READ Move That Bill Forward #1, click HERE.
This summer LUM is scheduled to unveil and open Immigration Clinic. In 2012, the LUM Board of Directors made the decision to offer immigration assistance citing its mission to “give witness to God’s saving love and prophetic power by loving neighbors, seeking justice, empowering the least among us.” Around the same time the Board issued a statement opposing policies separating children and expressing a desire to explore pathways for legal immigration and citizenship.
In lockstep with the sense of call expressed by the Board, LUM Campaign for Hoosier Families has made it a legislative priority to advocate for the legalization and a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants. These individuals and families have come to the US with the same sense of purpose and desire for a better life much as the people who settled this country. Unfortunately though they enjoy none of the rights and protections that we consider as Americans to be unalienable. As you may know, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform last June, but thus far Republican House Members have refused to vote on the Senate bill or give the issue any type of consideration. If an immigration reform bill is not passed by the end of the year, which also constitutes the end of current congress, the whole process will have to start all over again.