Proposed California Bill Would Extend Food Assistance to Undocumented Immigrants

According to a report from The Sacramento Bee, a California state lawmaker has introduced legislation (Senate Bill 464) aimed at expanding food assistance benefits to undocumented immigrants and others who are currently ineligible for support based solely on their immigration status. In this article, our Los Angeles immigration advocates highlight three of the most important things you need to know about California’s Senate Bill 464.

The Problem: Undocumented Immigrants are Left Out of Most State/Federal Programs

Unfortunately, immigrant communities have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. Yet, undocumented immigrants are largely left outside of federal relief programs. For example, an undocumented immigrant cannot receive federal Economic Impact Payments (stimulus check) or enhanced employment benefits.

The pandemic and lack of basic social assistance has put a tremendous strain on people and families who were already in a vulnerable position. While our state has taken some action to help provide support— California created a $75 million COVID-19 relief fund to provide direct cash assistance last spring—a lot more still needs to be done to address the problem.

Senate Bill 464 Would Expand Eligibility Under the California Food Assistance Program

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) introduced the Senate Bill 464 in an effort to bring changes. Essentially, SB 464 would reform state law to ensure that a California resident could not be disqualified from food assistance based solely on their immigration status. As explained by the state’s Department of Social Services, the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) provides state-funded food stamps for non-citizens who are ineligible for federal benefits. However, as currently structured, the CFAP denies food assistance to:

  • Undocumented immigrants;
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders; and
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

In touting the legislation, Senator Hurtado emphasizes that there is a historical need for this type of reform, that the “pandemic has made matters significantly worse,” and that our state must “take action immediately.”

The Reform Still Needs to Overcome Several Obstacles to Become Law

Senate Bill 464 is still a long way from becoming law. It needs to pass the state senate, state house of representatives, and get support from the Governor’s Office. As the legislation is currently drafted, it would not take effect until January of 2023. It is also unclear if the recently unveiled proposal can secure enough support among other lawmakers. Nonetheless, it is good to see a state leader stepping up and attempting to solve a serious problem.

Our Law Firm Advocates for Immigrant Rights in California

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud to provide top quality, fully personalized representation to immigrants and their families. If you need legal advice, we are ready to help. Call our Los Angeles office now to schedule your confidential, no commitment initial consultation. With a legal office in Los Angeles, we provide immigration law services all over Southern California, including Santa Monica, Irvine, East Los Angeles, Gardena, and Rosemead.

Josh Goldstein
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