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Issue Alert - 04-08-02

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Aug 20, 2004

Issue Summary:

Families that include an undocumented person are no longer barred from receiving SER. Program Policy Bulletin 2004-16 SER Item 202.

Persons Affected:

Households applying for State Emergency Relief (SER) that include a person who cannot document his or her immigrantion status

For More Information:

Lisa RubyMichigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000(734) 998-6100(Fax: 734) 998-9125 Email:


State Emergency Relief

What's Happening?

Effective immediately, families with undocumented members are not prevented from receiving SER for this reason alone. The income and assets of the undocumented person(s) will be considered, however, and the undocumented person(s) will not be in the household when calculating the amount of help available to the household. The assistance will be pro-rated so that only those persons who are documented or citizens will receive help.In August, FIA Caseworkers were given an interim policy bulletin, PPB 2004-16 explaining the new policy. The FIA manual will be updated on-line in early October 2004. Prior to that time a copy of this bulletin is available from one of the organizations listed above.The policy bulletin explains the change as follows:EFFECTIVE: Immediately SUBJECT: SER Groups With Undocumented Alien(s)SER 202Policy is clarified regarding undocumented aliens. Undocumentedaliens are not eligible for SER, but their presence does not disqualifythe group. The following applies to all households containing one ormore undocumented aliens:• Any member of the household may apply• Include all household members for purposes of determining eligibility for SER. *Budget the income and assets of all household members. *For shelter and energy services, include all household members when determining required payments, affordability, etc. • Prorate the benefit for the U.S. citizens and legal aliens only.Note: Households must meet all other SER eligibility requirements._________________________________________________________________

What Should Advocates Do?

• Get the word out to organizations in your community, especially those that provide emergency assistance and / or which work with immigrant families. • Makes sure families are not denied state emergency relief based solely on the fact that an undocumented immigrant is in the home. Some families will still be denied, however, because of the income of the undocumented person(s), or because the household is too small to receive assistance when the undocumented person(s) are removed from the group.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan LawHelp web site ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.