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2007 January - February

The Big Skim

How Tax Refund Anticipation Loans Drain Over a Billion Dollars from Workers' Tax Refunds

By Chi Chi Wu

Targeted at the working poor, refund anticipation loans have extracted billions of dollars from hard-earned tax returns in recent years. Legislation, litigation, alternative loan products, action by the Internal Revenue Service, and well-informed advocates and public are all necessary to prevent these loan products from undermining the effectiveness of the earned income tax credit and leaving low-income taxpayers with less money in their pockets.

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Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking, and Other Crimes

A Violence Against Women Act 2005 Update

By Joanne C. Lin, Leslye Orloff & Ericka Echavarria

By protecting immigrants subjected to abuse by family members, the Violence Against Women Act allows survivors of domestic violence to seek legal residence in the United States. Amendments passed by Congress and signed into law by the president in 2005 build on those protections by expanding the categories of domestic survivors eligible to self-petition for permanent residence status and obtain other forms of immigration relief.

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New Provisions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

Implications for Clients with Disabilities and Advocacy Opportunities

By Cary LaCheen

The Deficit Reduction Act, signed into law last year, reauthorizes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Among other provisions, the Act places more stringent requirements on states to require participation in work activities on the part of cash aid recipients. These changes have particular implications for the disproportionate number of recipients who have disabilities themselves or whose children have disabilities. Federal disability rights laws continue to apply to the TANF program, however, and offer advocacy opportunities as states implement the new law.

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Fairer Housing for People with Disabilities

Securing an In-Place Tenant's Right to Reasonable Accommodation

By Liam Garland

While many tenants face housing obstacles, low-income tenants with disabilities confront a housing crisis. A reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Amendments Act can preserve a client’s housing. Advocates helping tenants need to be familiar with the most relevant legal authority, learn from the experiences of fair housing advocates handling reasonable accommodations requests, hear about in-place tenants’ most common reasonable accommodation requests, and gain a practical perspective on meeting them. Fair housing organizations are available to assist advocates.

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Portable Justice, Global Workers, and the United States

By Cathleen Caron

Many migrant laborers who are unjustly treated by their employers depart the United States before seeking redress for the violation of their rights. By leaving, they jeopardize the viability of their claims because the U.S. legal system largely relies on an available litigant. Global Workers Justice Alliance promotes transnational collaboration among advocates and improves the representation of migrants who have left their country of employment.

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The Violence Against Women Act Now Ensures Legal Services for Immigrant Women

By Amanda Baran

The recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act allows programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and other crimes. An analysis of the new eligibility rules helps advocates understand the scope of services that may be rendered with federal funds to what types of clients.

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