In this book I attempt to help immigrants to navigate the maze of rules and regulations they encounter when they approach the U.S. welfare system.
My primary motivation for writing this book is to put information in the hands of those who need it. According to Marcia Meyers,
The first form of help that low-income individuals need is information. Learning about the benefits for which they may be eligible turns out to be a surprisingly difficult hurdle for many. Information generally available is both inaccurate and inadequate. Although low-income individuals are often portrayed as knowledgeable and savvy consumers of welfare services, research reveals that their information is often both limited and inaccurate.
Moreover, the welfare system has become more complex in recent years. In their zeal to reduce welfare caseloads and cost, many states have used these new rules to impose more complex eligibility tests for welfare. As a result, in many parts of the country, getting welfare has become even more difficult and unpleasant than it used to be.
My work has been mostly with the Indian community, and the examples given are taken from my experience. However, all immigrants are in the same boat and, I hope, will benefit from reading this book.
The Impact of Immigrant Legislation
Some Acts of Congress have had a big impact on immigrants and have added to the complexity of understanding and applying for welfare benefits.
In this book, you will often find different rules are explained for two groups of people demarcated by passage of the Welfare Reform Act on August 22, 1996:
• Pre-8/22/96 entrants, meaning those who arrived in the U.S. before passage of the Welfare Reform Act.
• Post-8/22/96 entrants, meaning those who arrived in the U.S. after passage of the Welfare Reform Act.