Group rallies in Salem in support of bill to expand food help for refugees, immigrants
SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - A group organized in part by the Oregon Food Bank held a rally outside the state capitol on Thursday to call for lawmakers to pass a bill that would expand food assistance for refugees and immigrants.
More than 100 local groups support or are part of the campaign Food For All Oregonians. They say Senate Bill 610 would extend federal food assistance, or SNAP, to more than 60,000 Oregonians who currently are ineligible for the benefits because of immigration status.
According to current law, those who’ve come to the United States and lack documentation such as a social security card are not eligible for SNAP benefits.
Aldo Solano with the Oregon Food Bank says he clearly remembers the moment his mother told him as a child that their family couldn’t get SNAP benefits because of her and his father’s immigration status.
“I’ll just never forget the look in her eyes when she knew she was going to crush a dream because she told me, ‘Mijo, we don’t qualify because we don’t have any papers.’ And I just couldn’t understand that,” Solano said.
This bill would change current law so that immigrants in Oregon can get SNAP benefits regardless of their status.
Solano says this would have made a world of difference for his parents years ago when they were struggling to make ends meet as farm workers.
“How was it possible that we were working to provide food on the table for other people, and we couldn’t do it for ourselves?” he said.
A leader for a group helping re-settle Afghan refugees in the metro area says many of those people helped the United States during the war in Afghanistan. Now some feel like they’ve been forgotten.
“Here, there are many folks that served in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and other allies,” said Darwaish Zakhil with the Afghan Support Network. “And because of their immigration status now in Oregon, they’re not eligible for food.”
It’s unclear at this time if Senate Bill 610 will become reality this session as political division in the state senate has brought everything to a halt. The bill has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
You can contribute to the FOX 12 Hunger Free Project by rounding up your purchase to the nearest dollar at any Fred Meyer to benefit the Oregon Food Bank, or by donating on kptv.com.
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