For three days, thousands of government cash cards are being distributed to area residents who have entered the United States through an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center. According to the government contractor overseeing the distribution, The International Rescue Committee (IRC), most of the 2,500 cards are being distributed primarily to Cuban refugees who are living across the Permian Basin.

According to a local IRC representative, while the amount loaded on each cash cards vary, typical benefits provide each person with approximately $700 per month – with no strings attached as to how the taxpayer provided cash is spent – and also includes government provided healthcare.

“Most of the clients that are here … are actually parolee Cubans … which means they go through an entry point and they are given parolee status which means they don’t get asylum but which means they have to be here for a year and then they can apply for citizenship but during that first year of parolee status they can’t do anything – they can’t work until that one year, one day hits.” stated the IRC representative.

IRC points out that their clients are here legally as they come from countries such as Cuba as the United States recognizes people fleeing these areas as refugees and, upon entering the US, the refugees are processed through an ICE detention center. In addition to the current distribution, IRC stated they typically process 400-500 new refugees per month in the Permian Basin area.

According to the IRC, once a refugee is in the US for one year plus one day they automatically become eligible for an Employee Authorization Document (EAD) or Green Card and they can also begin the process to become full citizens. Once a refugee receives their EAD they can be legally employed. If, however, a refugee doesn’t become employed the refugee then becomes eligible for the full range of government support such as WIC, food stamps.

According to their website, IRC, which operates as a federally supported refugee resettlement agency, also provides a host of other services to incoming refugees such as legal services, housing assistance, affordable food, and health and wellness services.

“Basically, what is occurring here is what is known as ‘chain migration’, where one family member, who has already been in the US for a while, gets established in the area and then they are informed about their ‘right’ to get other family members into the country. Also, we know that there is widespread use of the so-called ‘anchor babies’, where female immigrants come into the country, have a child here who, under current executive immigration policy, is automatically considered a US citizen. Then, they use this baby to ‘anchor’ the family in the US, something neither the Supreme Court nor the Congress have ever formally addressed. We now commonly refer to many of these anchor babies as ‘dreamers’ or DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients.” stated a local immigration expert.