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Supplemental help not offered in South Carolina to immigrants

A September 2014 report from the Pew Charitable Trust shows that the foreign-born population of South Carolina has grown at a faster rate than that of any other state. The report is based on family immigration figures recorded between 2010 and 2012. The report also found that South Carolina is one of 10 states that offer no supplementary benefits to immigrants or their families.

The amount of federal benefits available to legal immigrants was cut sharply by welfare reform legislation in 1996. Many states subsequently stepped in for these families and elected to supplement federal programs such as Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. South Carolina has instead focused its efforts on preventing illegal immigration into the state.

In South Carolina, the number of foreign born residents grew by 87.1 percent between 2000 and 2012. They numbered 220,000 and made up 4.7 percent of the state's total population by 2012. Some immigrant advocate groups are calling for regulatory reform rather than supplemental benefits. Organizations like the Hispanic Alliance have been working towards allowing immigrant students in South Carolina to become eligible for professional licenses after completing their studies under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

There are a number of ways to pursue legal residence in the U.S., but the process may seem complex to those unfamiliar with it. An attorney with knowledge of immigration law might be able to explain the differences between the various visa programs and the criteria required for each. An immigration attorney may also be able to help an individual gather all the proper documents for a visa or residency application in a timely manner.

Source: The Post and Courier, "S.C. among 10 states that offer immigrants no extra benefits", Robert Behre, September 25, 2014

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