Lifting the Bar on 25+ Years of Excluding Immigrants from Vital Supports

The following statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta Gupta, president and executive director, Center for Law and Social Policy.

Washington, D.C., June 15, 2023–Today, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) reintroduced the LIFT the BAR Act, a bill that would restore access to critical public benefits for immigrants. In the more than 25 years since passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, immigrants and their families have been forced to endure severe harm to their health and wellbeing caused by barriers created under the 1996 law. As a result, lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, must arbitrarily wait five years before accessing public benefits. Worse still is that other authorized immigrants such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients are completely barred from coverage. The LIFT the BAR Act would finally remove these misguided, racist, and harmful barriers that our nation should never have created. 

We commend Representatives Jayapal and Cárdenas and Senator Hirono for their leadership in working to make our systems of support more equitable and effective. No one should be denied access to vital medical care, food, housing, or economic support for any period of time due to their immigration status. Exclusionary policies are profoundly detrimental and undermine our collective wellbeing, with impacts on citizens and communities nationwide. CLASP estimates that up to 1.7 million children, the vast majority of whom are U.S. citizens themselves, in immigrant families are impacted by the barriers to public benefits their immigrant parents face.  

We will continue to push for a country where immigrants have access to the same supports as everyone else, so that they, their families, and their communities—which are all of our communities—can thrive. This legislation is a critical step in realizing that goal.