Illegals Can Get More FEMA Funds If Their Children Are US Citizens, Says Agency

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Illegal immigrants impacted by Hurricane Matthew can qualify for extra federal funding if they have children who are U.S. citizens, according to authorities.

“All individuals, regardless of citizenship status, that have been impacted by a Hurricane are eligible for short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief programs,” a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson told ThinkProgress.

“U.S. citizens; non-citizen nationals; and qualified aliens impacted are eligible to receive individual and household assistance,” the spokesperson said, adding those with U.S. citizen children could get more help, including “funds to help with the repair or replacement of a home, clothing, and other essential needs.”

FEMA providing aid to illegal immigrants is nothing new. The agency issued a statement after the 2009 Georgia floods on “how FEMA aid applies to undocumented immigrants,” adding that, “household with family members with mixed immigration status may be eligible for disaster assistance” since it only takes one person to apply on behalf of an entire home.

“FEMA does not collect information on the immigration status of other household members,” reads the 2009 statement.

In 2015, FEMA said that “parents and guardians of children who are citizens, noncitizen nationals or qualified aliens living in the federally-declared Arkansas disaster area, may apply for assistance on behalf of their child” in the wake of severe storms that ravaged the region.

Hurricane Matthew struck Florida late Thursday night and is slowly making its way up the coastline, pelting residents who didn’t flee the area with rain and powerful gusts of wind. The Category 3 storm is expected to do lots of damage, and FEMA is offering everyone in the area help.

More than 600,000 illegal immigrants live in Florida, according to the Migration Policy Institute, with the biggest group hailing from Mexico.

Florida officials are warning everyone to get out of Matthew’s path. President Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida Thursday, and the administration is echoing calls for people to get to safety.

Already, thousands have lost power across Florida, according to news reports. That likely includes the residences of illegal immigrants.

FEMA provides “search and rescue, medical care, shelter, food and water, as well as ‘Disaster Legal Services and Crisis Counseling’” regardless of citizenship status, the agency told ThinkProgress.

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