Immigrants and Public Benefits in Nebraska: An Update on Implementation of LB 403

food_feature2In the past few months you might have heard about Legislative Bill 403 (LB 403), which went into effect on October 1, 2009. LB 403 was passed by the Nebraska Unicameral in March, 2009. LB 403 has two distinct parts. First, LB 403 requires state agencies and political subdivisions to verify the lawful presence of applicants for “public benefits.” Second, LB 403 requires state agencies or political subdivisions to verify the work eligibility status of new employees. To see the bill click here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/Final/LB403.pdf

The Low Income Self Sufficiency Program is specifically interested in the verification requirement under LB 403 which calls for state agencies and political subdivisions to verify the lawful presence of applicants for “public benefits.” Unfortunately, LB 403 defines public benefits in a way that makes it difficult to understand which public benefits will be affected by the bill. Additionally, to date the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has not offered official guidance on what constitutes a public benefit. It remains unclear exactly how LB 403 will impact providers of human services.

Because of LB 403’s ambiguous public benefit definition, and because of the lack of guidance from the state, many people are concerned about the ultimate impact of this legislation. This is why Nebraska Appleseed is working to understand and explain the consequences of LB 403, as well as to protect those persons who may be affected by it.

At this stage, it seems that the benefits that many providers give may be unaffected by LB 403. Under federal law, many public benefits, such as Medicaid or Food Stamps, already require a verification of immigration status. This means that LB 403 will have no affect on many federal public benefit programs. LB 403 also contains a number of exemptions where lawful presence will not need to be verified. For example, public benefits like emergency medical care and programs necessary for the protection of life and safety will be unaffected by the bill. These are only a few examples. The point is, the affect of LB 403 may not be as far reaching as many people suppose.

Nebraska Appleseed has done a significant amount of research on LB 403 and how it might affect public benefits in Nebraska. Appleseed would like to be a resource for you in the coming days as LB 403 goes into effect. If you have questions about how LB 403 might affect your agency or clients we would like to hear from you. We have an LB 403 informational training that can be given upon request and we are also available to answer any questions or concerns. If you would like to request a training, or if you have questions about LB 403, please contact James A. Goddard at 402 438 8853 x108; jgoddard@neappleseed.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *