May 26, 2022

Hirono Bill Critical to Equitable Pandemic Recovery, Advocates Say

WASHINGTON — Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) today introduced legislation reversing the “five-year bar,” a 1996 policy that denies eligibility for federal assistance programs to millions in the families of immigrants who are lawfully present in the United States. The Lifting Immigrant Families Through Benefits Access Restoration (LIFT the BAR, S 4311) Act has 9 original cosponsors: Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). The Hirono bill is the Senate companion to legislation (HR 5227) sponsored by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington-7), which has earned more than 80 cosponsors since its introduction in September. January polling by the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition finds that ¾ of Americans favor the policy change proposed by the LIFT the BAR Act. In response to the bill’s introduction, the PIF coalition released the following statement from its director, Adriana Cadena:

“By denying health care and aid to otherwise-eligible people who are lawfully present, the five-year bar has denied millions of families of color in our country the basics every family should have to thrive. A quarter-century is more than long enough to wait for justice. Let’s help families succeed by eliminating unnecessary systemic barriers that impact entire communities. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer, pass the LIFT the BAR Act now.”