Thousands of legal immigrants throughout the state have found themselves on the wrong end of budget cuts in Olympia.
As of Sunday, benefits for the Department of Social Health Services’ Food Assistance Program for Legal Immigrants (FAP) will be cut in half. These cuts will affect more than 15,000 legal immigrants and save approximately $30 million over the next two years, according to DSHS.
Prior to these cuts, FAP provided its clients with the same level of benefits as the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.
Many recipients of FAP benefits are not eligible for food stamps. Legal immigrant can receive food stamps only if they have had their green card for more than five years, are under 18 years old and have a green card, came to the United States as refugees or were honorably discharged from the military.
DSHS had planned to cut the program entirely in 2011. But advocates sued the department, saying that terminating the program violated equal protection and due process. The case made it to the Court of Appeals, which ruled that the state had legal rights to terminate the program.
The Legislature later cut the benefits in half.