Disaster Cash Assistance Program FAQs
When the Governor of Washington declares an emergency, as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP) is authorized to provide funds to families and individuals who have suffered losses because of the disaster or emergency.
Is it safe for any immigrant to apply for the DCAP program? What about public charge?
How do I apply?
- It is safe for immigrants to go to DSHS and apply for the DCAP program. If DSHS tells them that they are eligible for DCAP, they can enroll without worry.
- If DSHS tells them that some members of their family are eligible for the federal TANF program, it is safe for the family to enroll them IF those family members are U.S. citizens or LPRs.
- If the family members have another type of immigration status, they may want to consult with an immigration attorney before (or at least soon after) enrolling in the federal TANF program.
I have heard that DSHS shares information with the federal government to verify someone’s immigration status, does that mean they will share my information if I apply for DCAP?
All DSHS offices are currently closed, so people will have to apply either online at https://www.washingtonconnection.org/home/ or by phone at (877) 501-2233.
Which government programs might require a sponsor to repay the government?
It is true that DSHS must share information about people with lawful immigration status to verify whether they qualify for federally funded programs. However, DSHS has confirmed that they will NOT be sharing any information from people who do not have a social security number or an immigration status that might qualify them for a federally funded program. We therefore consider it safe for people to apply for the DCAP program in this regard.
- Non-emergency Medicaid
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “food stamps”)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Note that sponsored immigrants rarely participate in those programs because most are not eligible to receive these federally funded benefits for at least five years after becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR). In addition, the government has not made enforcing sponsor liability a priority because it is a burdensome process and applies to only a small percentage of their cases.
Special thanks to Protecting Immigrant Families and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for this analysis.
Reviewed on 3/15/2021