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Issue Alert - 13-04-06

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Date:

Apr 15, 2013

Program Area:

Food Assistance Program (FAP)

Issue Summary:

The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) has “updated” the policy on who qualifies for FAP as a “battered alien”.

Persons Affected:

FAP applications and recipients who are immigrants and have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty while in the U.S., or whose child or parent has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S.

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice 320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558 E-mail: info@ccj-mi.org Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 Fax: (734) 998-9125


Background

To qualify for Food Assistance Program (FAP) benefits, individuals must be U.S. citizens or have an acceptable immigration status, in addition to meeting other FAP eligibility requirements. The DHS policy explaining the rules on qualifying for FAP if you are an immigrant is contained in BEM 225, which is being revised effective May 1, 2013.

Immigrants who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S., or whose child or parent has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, are referred to as “battered aliens”.  

Previously, the narrative policy section on Battered Aliens in BEM 225 allowed battered aliens to receive FAP.   

What's Happening?

DHS has issued revised BEM 225 effective May 1, 2013, to state that battered aliens will NOT be eligible to receive FAP “unless they meet one of the applicable footnotes listed in Exhibit II –CITIZENSHIP/ALIEN STATUS TABLE” at the end of BEM 225.

The revised policy is confusing because Exhibit II indicates that battered aliens are eligible for FAP if they have been in the U.S. for 5 years or more.  The footnote “exceptions” only apply to battered aliens who have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years, who generally are barred from receiving FAP. 

In spite of the poorly written policy, it appears DHS intends to follow federal law, which allows battered aliens to qualify for FAP

(a) if they have been in the U.S. for 5 years or more, or

(b) if they have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years but also are in one of the following groups

1) Qualified military aliens, and their spouses and dependent children

2) Permanent resident aliens (“green card” holders) with 40 countable Social Security credits

3) Hmong/Laotian immigrants lawfully residing in the U.S., and their spouses, unmarried dependent children under age 18, or un-remarried surviving spouses

4) Individuals lawfully residing in the U.S. who are disabled or blind

5) Children under age 18

See BEM 225 for policy defining the terms used in these 5 categories. The current version of BEM 225 is available online at http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/bem/225.pdf

What Should Advocates Do?

1.    Educate clients and community organizations in affected counties about the new policy.

2.  Contact CCJ's Food and Nutrition Helpline if you have questions and encourage clients who have problems getting FAP or have questions about the policy to contact the Helpline at (800)481-4989.  

What Should Clients Do?

Contact CCJ’s Food and Nutrition Helpline at (800)481-4989 if you have questions about the policy or have difficulty qualifying for FAP.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at MichiganLegalAid.org. You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.
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