Thousands of refugees living in the U.S. are about to lose their one lifeline — the cash assistance they get from the federal government because they're too old, sick or disabled to work.
Refugees who seek asylum is the U.S. are eligible for Supplemental Security Income — a kind of cash assistance that helps low-income people who are disabled or elderly. But they can only receive it for so long — seven years — before they are cut off. The idea is that people will either be able to work or become citizens in that length of time, but for many, that hasn't happened.
Congress extended benefits for two years back in 2008, but the time has come again to renew, and it doesn't look like it's going to happen. SSI benefits will expire in October for thousands of immigrants who came here because they were escaping tyranny, oppression and persecution.
Tell Congress it can't ignore their plight any longer. Let's extend benefits to refugees who continue to need our help, including indigent refugees waiting to become citizens.
Photo credit: Korean Resource Center 민족학교
Olga Muhtarova, a 79 year-old Uzbekistani immigrant, has lived here since 1998. She wants to become a citizen and has even taken English classes, but she just got her green card last year. Because of that, she won't be eligible to become a citizen until 2014, but her SSI benefits will expire in October, along with thousands of others.
Although Mhutarova is not technically an Americans, she and others like her are Americans in another way. Like those who came here hundreds of years ago, they came here because they were escaping tyranny, oppression and persecution. They came here seeking a better life, marked by freedom. That's the essence of being American, and they probably know it better than most of us who were born here.
We can't ignore their plight any longer. As an elected official, we're asking you to extend benefits to refugees who continue to need our help, including indigent refugees waiting to become citizens.