Weak Verification and Waiving of Welfare Reform Provisions Key Strategies for Amnesty Advocates and Immigrant Rights Groups


If powerful special interests prevail, the final version of a health care reform bill will have been used to transform immigration policies and immigration-related aspects of welfare policy almost as much as transforming the U.S. health care system itself. Current versions of both the House and Senate bills contain inadequate verification measures to prevent millions of illegal aliens from accessing taxpayer funded health benefits. And both versions of the bill now contain language that completely waives the long-standing rule requiring that legal aliens must wait 5 years before receiving access to federal health care benefits. Put into place in the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA or Welfare Reform), the policy was designed to ensure that legal immigrants did not become “public charges” and that they did not come to the U.S. simply to acquire benefits. This common-sense policy has been scrapped and now 5.5 million legal aliens will have instant access to health care benefits. FAIR believes this will establish a dramatic precedent to eliminate the 5 year waiting period entirely for virtually every federal benefit.


As expected, the proposed legislation is a mixed bag when it comes to preventing illegal aliens from accessing the recently resurrected public option. The legislation does call for the use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program for those who claim to be non-citizens. However, for those who claim to be citizens, a new untested verification system is to be used and no photo identification is required!, Furthermore, the bureaucratic channels by which the social security number and name are processed and confirmed have the potential to be ripe with fraud. Even if the documents are found to be fraudulent, the process could take months before the government is alerted to the deceit.


The welfare reform legislation of 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, made Legal Permanent Residents (LPR’s) wait 5 years before they became eligible for most federal benefits. This effectively reduced federal outlays, but more importantly, reduced the potential that newly arrived immigrants were coming to the U.S. simply to access benefits. The prohibition has been one of the very few sensible reforms made to an immigration system that is otherwise in chaos.

The current House Health Care Reform bill waives this longstanding rule so that LPR’s may instantly receive taxpayer health care benefits!

Over the last 5 years, the United States has admitted more than 5.5 million immigrants as LPR’s. Under the provisions of the House bill, this population will no longer be subject to the 5 year waiting period. Waiving the 5 year waiting period will cost the American taxpayers at least $33.8 billion during the 2014-2019 budget period. If we assume that all 5 year LPR’s were to utilize the provision, the costs to the American taxpayers would rise to an astounding $173.4 billion over the projected period.

85% Say Government Services Should Go Only To Those Here Legally

Rasmussen Reports recently asked voters to weigh in on whether or not illegal aliens should have access to universal health coverage. The results show 85% of voters support providing proof of citizenship before accessing government services. When asked specifically with regard to health care, 83% stated support for proving citizenship before receiving government funded health subsidies.

The above is part of a press release dated November 3 from Federation for American Immigration Reform, 25 Massachusetts Avenue – Suite 330 Washington DC, 20001, Office 202-328-7004 http://www.fairus.org. Contact Dustin Carnevale on 202-328-7004 for details of the above. Email: media@fairus.org. Founded in 1979, FAIR is the oldest and largest immigration reform group in America. FAIR fights for immigration policies that enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs and wages and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.