By Megan Burks
The Fallout From Brown’s Proposed Welfare Cuts
This week, we took a look at how Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal may impact City Heights residents. The proposal calls for deep cuts to CalWorks, a welfare-to-work program many families in the neighborhood rely on.
HealthyCal.org published a good explainer on the proposal today, with clear details on who could feel the fallout if the cuts go through.
|His most dramatic proposal is to reduce the time limit from its current 48 months to just 24 months for people who fail to find unsubsidized employment. The adults would be kicked off aid and denied other services, but the families would continue to collect assistance for the children.
People who found jobs within their first two years on welfare but whose incomes still qualified them for aid would be allowed to remain in the program for a total of 48 months. And they would be allowed to keep more of what they earned. For the average family of three, the change would amount to an increase of $44 a month.
And while those families who remained on welfare with parents working would continue to be eligible for state-subsidized child care, many other families would lose this benefit. On one end, Brown would limit eligibility to just those parents who were meeting the state’s work requirement, leaving many low-income or penniless families out of child care altogether. On the other end of the scale, he would reduce the income eligibility threshold from 70 percent of the state’s median family income to about 62 percent, ending subsidized child care for families earning anything more than twice the federal poverty level. This would result in an estimated 62,000 children losing child care, out of about 296,000 who get it from the state today.
HealthyCal’s piece also provides background on how the program has morphed from no-strings-attached aid, which contributed to negative perceptions about people on welfare, to the comprehensive work-training program it is today.
The governor’s proposal also includes big changes for schools. KQED held a panel discussion today on what the changes would mean. Standby for the audio here.
Follow HealthyCal.org @HealthyCal.
Mixed-Status Families Could Soon Apply For Waiver Stateside
Immigration authorities proposed a small administrative change last week that could mean big relief for families with mixed immigration statuses. The change would allow undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens to apply for a waiver that ensures they could stay in the United States while awaiting a green card.
Multi-American posted a Q&A with immigration attorney David Leopold on how it would work:
|Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign national who remains in the U.S. unlawfully for more than 6 months, after entering illegally or overstaying a visa, is barred from readmission to the U.S. once he or she leaves. The law also does not generally permit noncitizens who have entered illegally from adjusting their status to lawful permanent residence (green card), even if they are married to a U.S. citizen.
This puts many would-be legal immigrants into a Catch-22: The noncitizen may be eligible for a green card because of the marriage but, to apply for it, he or she must leave the U.S. to appear at the U.S. embassy in his or her home country. Once the noncitizen departs the U.S., he or she is then barred from returning for up to 10 years unless he or she can obtain a family unity waiver, which requires a showing that the applicant’s U.S. citizen spouse will suffer extreme hardship.
Currently, applicants must apply for the family unity waiver abroad. The process can take months, even years. In the meantime, the family is separated and the applicant may be stuck waiting in a dangerous place, such as Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The proposed procedural tweak will allow the applicant to apply for the waiver in the U.S. Once the waiver is granted, the applicant may then proceed abroad, apply for their immigrant visa, and return quickly to the U.S. and their family as a legal immigrant. This proposed rule does not change the law in any way. But by allowing for stateside waiver processing it protects American families and promotes legal immigration.
Regional directors for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have already been using discretionary powers to grant similar benefits to undocumented spouses of military personnel, according to Fronteras. There is a bill in Senate to turn the provision into national law.
Follow Multi-American @Multi_American.
Burma Signs Cease-Fire With Karen Rebel Group
The New York Times reports the government of Myanmar signed a cease-fire Thursday with Karen rebel groups. The agreement comes after 60 years of civil war in the region. The fighting brought reports of gruesome military abuses, including recruiting children as soldiers.
As a result, many Burmese fled the country to Thailand and eventually the United States. San Diego County has resettled 1,142 between 1995 and 2010. There is now a Karen Organization of San Diego. (The group will host a Karen New Year celebration tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Crawford High School.)
Following yesterday’s news, local reporter Claire Trageser shared an article she wrote in 2008 on a Burmese family that fled to Thailand.
Follow Clare Trageser @clairetrageser.
San Diego to ‘Walk4Somalia’ Tomorrow
Somali Youth League of San Diego will host its Walk4Somalia tomorrow to raise funds and awareness for famine relief in Somalia. The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. at De Anza Cove in Mission Bay. Register online here.
Find Somali Youth League on Facebook.
Neighborhoods Absent From Mayor’s State of the City Address
Scott Lewis of Speak City Heights partner voiceofsandiego.org summed up the reaction of many to Mayor Jerry Sanders’ State of the City Address Wednesday: “Never has the established disregard for neighborhoods been so stark.”
The speech focused squarely on City Hall and its downtown neighborhood. Its opening featured a video of a young boy running from crime in his blighted neighborhood to proposed downtown developments: a Chargers stadium, new convention center and new central library.
Labor leader Lorena Gonzalez told KPBS the mayor’s vision lacked empathy for those struggling the most in San Diego.
“If the mayor’s entire economic program is revolving around low-wage jobs and beer, I think we have a problem here,” she said. “There are 57,000 San Diegans losing their homes and we didn’t hear anything about how we are going to fix that disaster.”
KPBS reports the crowd generally responded well to the speech, which celebrated the city’s strides in reforming its pension system and narrowing its budget deficit.
The speech was marred slightly by a group of Occupy protestors who began chanting during the speech. Four were arrested on felony conspiracy charges.
Follow Scott Lewis @vosdscott.
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