SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) has introduced a bill to create parity in benefits available to legal immigrants through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility for Kids (CalWORKS) and CalFresh programs.
Existing law provides various public social services programs to low-income families and individuals including CalWORKs, which provides cash assistance and other benefits, and CalFresh, which helps with access to food at markets and stores.
“Most legal immigrants in the United States are eligible for CalWORKs and CalFresh, provided they meet financial and categorical eligibility requirements,” explained Assemblymember Quirk.
Generally, when a sponsored noncitizen applies for public benefits, the welfare agency certifying their benefit eligibility considers both the income and resources of their sponsor as available to them – a process known as “sponsor deeming”. In cases where a sponsor is unable to support them, the welfare agency may issue an indigence exemption.
In California, if a determination is made by the county that a sponsored noncitizen would go hungry and homeless without aid, the sponsored noncitizen is determined to be indigent. Indigence determinations are valid for 12 months from the date the determinations are made.
AB 944 will allow for CalWORKS benefits to be extended to indigent sponsored non-citizens beyond 12 months.
“Indigence determinations under CalFresh are renewed annually without restriction. However, CalWORKs, has no provision for renewal. In fact, an indigence exception to sponsor may only be granted once in a noncitizen’s lifetime. My bill removes an unnecessary barrier to ensure that no child or adult faces the possibility of going hungry or homeless,” said Assemblymember Quirk.
“Alameda County stands for the protection of all its residents regardless of citizenship status. It is very important to our community that all individuals have the basic necessities of food and shelter,” stated Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Keith Carson who is the Chair of the Committee on Personnel, Administration and Legislation Policy for the Board, “We are honored to work closely with Assemblymember Quirk and sponsor AB 944.”
“Last year, my work on this issue, in partnership with the County of Alameda, was stalled by Governor Brown’s veto. By introducing AB 944 today, I continue my fight to protect and strengthen the most vulnerable of our populations,” concluded Assemblymember Quirk.