PASADENA, Calif. -- People who are not U.S. citizens may be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to recover from the California wildfires this month.
Non-citizens who are "qualified aliens" are eligible for FEMA assistance.? That includes those who have a legal permanent resident card ("green card") and those with legal resident status because of asylum, refugee status, parole status, suspension of deportation status or status as victims of domestic violence.
Non-citizens here on a temporary tourist, student or work visa, or those with a temporary resident card are not directly eligible for FEMA aid.
However, since FEMA assistance goes to a household, a non-citizen parent or guardian of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen by virtue of birth can apply for FEMA assistance on behalf of the child. The immigration status of other members of such a household will not be investigated.
"FEMA conducts random audits of applications to verify U.S. citizenship and qualified alien documentation," said Mark Neveau, federal coordinating officer. "However, assistance can be given as long as someone in the household has qualified. No information will be gathered regarding the status of others in the household."
Federal and state disaster assistance is available to residents and businesses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara Counties that were designated disaster areas by President Bush.
"The safety of all Californians is the state's top concern. We encourage anyone who sustained fire damage and has valid access to federal and state assistance to register," said State Coordinating Officer Tom Maruyama.
Undocumented immigrants affected by the wildfires may be eligible for programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies.? They also may be eligible for short-term, non-cash aid from FEMA, such as food, water and shelter.
Applicants with wildfire damage to their residences, regardless of the language they speak, should register for federal and state assistance at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Translators are available for all languages. Applicants skilled in English also can apply online at www.fema.gov.
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.