PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- In the wake of the disaster declaration for 12 New Jersey counties on April 26, federal assistance is widely available to citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens. Qualified aliens include those with legal permanent residence (shown by green cards). Their status will not be jeopardized by requesting disaster assistance.
Disaster assistance is available to residents and businesses in Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties, which were declared a disaster area by President Bush.
A minor child who is a citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien can have a parent or guardian, who is not eligible, apply for assistance on the child's behalf. No information will be gathered on the adult's status.
The status of qualified alien includes:
- legal permanent residents (those with green cards),
- those with refugee or asylum status,
- those whose deportation has been withheld,
- those on parole into the U.S. for at least one year for humanitarian purposes,
- those with conditional entry,
- those who are Cuban-Haitian entrants,
- and those with petitions for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member.
The application for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires applicants to certify that they are either citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens. FEMA conducts random audits of applications to verify U.S. citizenship and qualified alien documentation issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. However, assistance can be given as long as someone in the household is entitled to it, and no information will be gathered regarding the status of others in the household.
Undocumented immigrants from a household with no one eligible for cash assistance from FEMA may still be eligible for programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies. They may also be eligible for short-term, non-cash aid from FEMA, such as disaster legal services.
Assistance for eligible individuals and small businesses includes funds for temporary housing and necessary home repairs, individual and household grants, disaster unemployment assistance, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration and other programs.
Applicants with damage from the disaster can register for assistance at 1- 800-621-FEMA (3362), or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired. The toll-free lines are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily, until further notice.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.