CRS Report: Federal Public Benefits Not Available to Unauthorized Aliens18 Oct 2012
A recent report from Congressional Research Service (CRS) should help put to rest a popular misconception, one that seems to gain currency around election time: that illegal aliens are eligible for a panoply of federal benefits. [See Unauthorized Aliens’ Access to Federal Benefits: Policy and Issues, by Ruth Ellen Wassem, Congressional Research Service, 17.Sep.2012, available from ILW.com.]
At the outset, the CRS report states unequivocally that, “except for a narrow set of specified emergency services and programs, unauthorized aliens are not eligible for federal public benefits.” According to CRS, federal law dating back to the Clinton Administration provides for “comprehensive restrictions on the eligibility of all noncitizens for means-tested public assistance, with exceptions for LPRs [lawful permanent residents] with a substantial U.S. work history or military connection.” The few emergency services available to unauthorized aliens are essentially humanitarian in nature: disaster relief, emergency medical treatment, immunizations, and services like crisis counseling and intervention that are necessary to protect life and safety.
In Washington DC, where spin reigns supreme, CRS reports are a notable exception, providing non-partisan fact-finding to Senators and Representatives of both parties. Neutral and objective information is always valuable to our public discourse, but especially now, as a necessary corrective to negative immigrant stereotypes that have become a staple of election-year politics in many parts of the country.
We put no stock in these negative stereotypes, and have not been shy about saying so: the fact is, immigrants make a vital contribution to our country’s success. They don’t come here to be freeloaders. Immigrants are job creators and entrepreneurs, inventors and leaders in the high-tech industry. They are smart people who come to the United States for the same reasons people have been coming to the United States for generations: to work hard, get ahead, and make a better life for themselves and their families!
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