October, 2018 update from Refugee Support Center
On September 22, President Trump announced a new policy which instructs US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers to consider whether or not a green card applicant receives a means-tested benefit (Food Stamps, Medicaid, public housing) when making an approval decision. Please see link below.
Although refugees are exempt from this policy, this is unsettling because it seems downright mean and because a mercurial administration might rescind an exemption at any point. Some refugees have had a whiff that something is in the air about Food Stamps and have asked us if it is true that they cannot use Food Stamps any more. Please tell any refugee you volunteer with who asks that as far as we know now, their Food Stamps will continue.
Our office did receive notification from USCIS that receiving a means-tested benefit will no longer qualify applicants, including refugees, for Fee Waivers for immigration applications. Currently the naturalization application fee is $725 and derivative citizenship fee is $1025.There are alternative ways to seek Fee Waivers which we will use, but they require more documentation and are not as easily approved.
Ten Congolese refugee families displaced from their New Bern homes due to Florence were placed in the Friday Center shelter. We were able to send our Swahili/Kinyarwanda interpreter to assist with some of them. The Center closed last Friday, and all families have returned home or to stay with friends.
A Legal Information Workshop recently held was a great success. Approximately 100 refugees attended the event held September 22. Presenters were: Chapel Hill Police Officer Todd Harris, Emily Moseley, coordinator of RSC's pro bono legal services, and Meredith Nicholson, a member of our pro bono attorney pool. Refugees have asked for follow-up workshops because so many had questions and time ran out before they could get answers. We were told that the Congolese minister, who attended the meeting, announced to his congregation the following morning, "When they hold another meeting, you absolutely must attend. What you will learn is so valuable.”
THANK YOU for caring about refugees, your advocacy and your support!
Flicka Bateman, EdD, Director
Refugee Support Center