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LA County Establishes New Community Programs To Connect Immigrants With State Benefits

Volunteers in orange vests from the Los Angeles Food Bank help load boxes of food into vehicles.
Programs like Calfresh and Medi-Cal are underutilized by immigrant communities. LA County officials are trying to change that with a new community outreach program.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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In an effort to get more immigrants to use public benefits, L.A. County is creating a "community navigators" program to raise awareness of available services.

Navigators also will address fears that remain from a now rolled-back Trump administration rule.

That rule said officials could deny legal immigration status to people who used public benefits, such as Medicaid and food stamps, for more than 12 months over a three-year period. The the so-called "public charge" rule was challenged in federal court while Trump was president and the Biden administration quickly got rid of it. Local officials say not everyone knows it is no longer a threat.

Daniel Sharp heads the county's Office of Immigrant Affairs; he says the "public charge" rule scared many immigrants away from programs like CalFresh, which helps low-income people buy food.

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"We know that there are many households in Los Angeles that either disenrolled or declined to access CalFresh on account of those concerns, so that is one of the major programs for sure that we hope to begin to undo the chilling effect," said Sharp.

The community navigators will also promote programs like Medi-Cal. California recently expanded Medi-Cal eligibility to anyone over 50, regardless of their immigration status.

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