U.S. Govt. Help To Caribbean Immigrants Scarce – Study

Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Weds. Nov. 2, 2005: Caribbean immigrants who migrate to the U.S. work hard, earn low wages and scarcely receive any government handouts, even though their U.S.-born citizen children may qualify for them. That’s according to researchers at the National Center for Children in Poverty.

Kinsey Dinan, researcher for the policy brief on ‘Children In Low-Income Immigrant Families,’ told HBN yesterday she found that many Caribbean and other immigrants, especially those living here in an undocumented capacity but raising U.S.-born children, did not seek assistance largely because of fear of being deported but also ignorance about the services.

“Adults emigrate to the United States to participate in the American dream,” commented Dr. Jane Knitzer, executive director of NCCP in a recent statement. “But the fact is that immigrant families are working hard and their children – overwhelmingly U.S. citizens – are getting less.”

In particular, Dinan said, Haitians in the Miami-Dade area of Florida, were prevented from securing government aid mainly because of immigration fears but also because of their language barrier and confusion over the procedures to obtaining help.

The study also found that nearly 17 million U.S. children have at least one foreign-born parent and that “these children are more likely to be low income and to experience other hardships than children with native-born parents.” And that among children living in immigrant families, about 4.7 million have undocumented immigrant parents but most of these chil­dren are citizens, although there are also an estimated 1.6 million undocumented children.

Children of immigrants comprise more than 26 percent of all low-income children in the United States and are also less likely than other children to benefit from government programs designed to assist low-income families, according to the study.

“Children whose parents are foreign-born are more likely to be low income and to face a range of hardships, such as food insecurity and a lack of health insurance, that increase the likeli­hood of poor child outcomes. At the same time, many of these children and their families are barred from the income and employment supports that are designed to assist low-income families and help them achieve economic security. Moreover, benefit eligibility restrictions generally target those who are most likely to need assistance—families with recent and un­documented members,” the study states.

Government programs range from food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance to Supplementary Security Income and public health insurance.

Dinan also found that the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Recon­ciliation Act made large categories of legal immigrants ineligible for key federal benefits for the first time and that has helped to further reduce immigrant families’ access to benefits.

The study recommends that state governments step in to help the poor and needy urgently by offering state-funded replacement programs for immigrants barred from federal benefits.

And Dinan also urged the federal government to eliminate the citizenship requirement as the eligibility for aid and also to consider steps to legalize the 10 or so million of undocumented immigrants living here. – Hardbeatnews.com