2023 State Policy Priorities



An Act Establishing Basic Needs Assistance for Massachusetts Immigrant Residents

This bill is sponsored by Senator Sal DiDomenico, Representatives Antonio F. D. Cabral and Judith A. Garcia 


1 in 6 residents in Massachusetts are foreign-born, with the Commonwealth having the 7th highest number of foreign-born residents in the nation. This population of people include many legally present immigrants, who although have followed proper immigration protocol, are still unfairly barred from public benefits like SNAP due to federal rules. This excluded group includes immigrants who have Temporary Pending Status (TPS), DACA recipients, pending asylum cases, Humanitarian Parole cases, and victims of violence. 

While benefits for special classifications of legally present immigrants were barred in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, Massachusetts has historically protected this group of people’s access to benefits. From 1997 to 2002 Massachusetts provided access to SNAP and Temporary Assistancefor Needy Families (TANF) through state funding to ensure this group of immigrants were not excluded from these essential anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. While this was an essential protection for Massachusetts’s immigrant residents,  it lapsed in 2002 and has not been reauthorized since. 

In January of 2023, Senator Sal DiDomenico, Rep Anthony Cabral and Rep. Judith Garcia proposed An Act establishing basic needs assistance for Massachusetts immigrant residents (H.135/S.76) which would ensure access to vital benefits for lawfully present immigrants. In partnership with La Colaborativa and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, the Feeding our Neighbors Coalition is working to restore state-funded food and cash assistance benefits to Massachusetts immigrants.

About the bill

The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) shall, provide the following benefits to lawfully present immigrants:

  • Cash assistance and related benefits to children, pregnant women and caretaker adults who meet the eligibility requirements.

  • Nutritional assistance benefits like SNAP which are essential in ensuring that our immigrant families are able to support their families in an increasingly unaffordable Massachusetts.

Latest news

  • On September 12th, the Joint Committee on Child, Families, and Persons with Disabilities heard An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program. Erin McAleer, Project Bread’s President and CEO, testified in front of the committee on this bill and three additional bills. Project Bread also submitted written testimony. Read more about it here.