[Background Material and Data on Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means (Green Book)]
[Appendices]
[Appendix J. Noncitizens]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]




 
              APPENDIX J. WELFARE BENEFITS FOR NONCITIZENS

                                CONTENTS

Introduction
Immigration and Naturalization Policy and Trends
  Legal Immigration
  Naturalization
  Illegal Aliens
  Current Foreign-Born Residents
Noncitizens' Eligibility for Benefits Prior to 1996
  The ``Public Charge'' Provision and Development of 
            Eligibility Standards
  State and Local Law Before 1996
  1996-98 Legislative Revisions
Alien Eligibility for Federal Assistance
  Program Bars
  Permanent Bar
  State Option
  Other Programs
  Expanded Sponsor-to-Alien Deeming and Affidavits of Support
  Eligibility Standards for Illegal Aliens
Noncitizens' Use of Federal Assistance Programs
  Analysis of Program Participation Data
  Analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) Data
Verification of Status and Reporting Requirements
  Verification Requirements
  Reporting Requirements
References

                              INTRODUCTION

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity 
Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193) changed almost 
every aspect of alien eligibility for Federal, State and local 
government assistance programs. It established comprehensive 
new restrictions on the eligibility of legal aliens for means-
tested public assistance, and also further restricted public 
benefits for illegal aliens and nonimmigrants (aliens 
temporarily here to visit, attend school, or work). 
Subsequently in the 104th Congress, provisions of the new 
welfare law were amended, supplemented, and further tightened 
up by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
Responsibility Act of 1996, enacted as division C of the 
Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 (Public Law 
104-208).
    The 1996 changes made in the alien eligibility rules proved 
controversial, particularly the termination of benefits for 
recipients who were receiving Supplemental Security Income 
(SSI) as of the date the new welfare law was enacted (August 
22, 1996). The termination date for SSI for these recipients 
was extended from August 22 to September 30, 1997 by Public Law 
105-18, signed June 12, 1997. More extensive modifications to 
the new alienage rules were included in Public Law 105-33, the 
1997 Balanced Budget Act (BBA) signed into law on August 5, 
1997. The BBA amended the welfare law to provide that legal 
immigrants who were receiving SSI as of August 22, 1996, will 
continue to be eligible, regardless of whether their claim was 
based on disability or age. In addition, qualified aliens who 
were here by August 22, 1996, and subsequently become disabled 
will be eligible for SSI. Congress also expanded food stamp 
eligibility in Public Law 105-185, the Agricultural Research, 
Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998, to include those 
legal immigrants who were here by August 22, 1996, who were 65 
years old or older, who were disabled or subsequently became 
disabled, or who were under 18 years old.
    This appendix begins with a brief discussion of U.S. 
immigration policy and trends, including naturalization 
requirements and statistics. A summary of alien eligibility 
requirements under prior law and a review of the current alien 
eligibility law follow. An analysis of noncitizen use of 
Federal benefits over the past few years reveals usage changes 
since the enactment of the 1996 alien eligibility rules. 
Provisions relating to verification of status and reporting 
requirements and concerns about illegal aliens and benefits 
conclude the appendix.

            IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION POLICY AND TRENDS

                            Legal Immigration

    Three major traditions underlie U.S. policy on legal 
immigration: the reunification of families, the admission of 
immigrants with needed skills, and the protection of refugees. 
These traditions are implemented through the Immigration and 
Nationality Act (INA), the basic law regulating the admission 
of immigrants allowed to reside in the United States 
permanently. While most foreign nationals, such as tourists, 
foreign students, international business people, or temporary 
workers, who enter the United States are coming temporarily, 
over 600,000 aliens become legal permanent residents each year.
    As chart J-1 shows, the annual number of immigrants to the 
United States rose gradually after World War II. Chart J-2 
illustrates that, although the percent of the population that 
is foreign born is not as large as during earlier periods, the 
sheer number--26 million in 1998--is at the highest point in 
U.S. history.
    The growth in immigration after 1980 is partly attributable 
to the fact that the total number of admissions under the basic 
system, consisting of immigrants entering through a preference 
system as well as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, was 
augmented considerably by legalized aliens and refugees. These 
latter two categories together accounted for 35 percent of 
total immigration dur-



 CHART J-1. NUMBER OF LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS ADMITTED TO THE UNITED 
STATES AND NUMBER OF ALIENS LEGALIZED UNDER THE IMMIGRATION REFORM AND 
                CONTROL ACT BY MOST RECENT YEAR OF ENTRY


    Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service 
based on data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.


   CHART J-2. FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES, 1870-1998


    Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service 
based on data from the March 1999 Supplement of the Current 
Population Survey, Hansen and Bachu (1994), U.S. Census Bureau 
(1995), and Bogue (1985).


ing the period 1980-95. The number of refugees admitted 
increased from 718,000 in the period 1966-80 to 1.6 million 
during the period 1981-95, after enactment of the Refugee Act 
of 1980 (Vialet, 1997). In addition, the Immigration Act of 
1990 increased the ceiling on employment-based preference 
immigration, with the provision that unused employment visas 
would be made available the following year for family 
preference immigration.

                             Naturalization

    Another tradition of immigration policy is to allow 
immigrants an opportunity to integrate fully into society. 
Under U.S. immigration law, all legal permanent resident aliens 
are potential citizens. To naturalize, aliens must have 
continuously resided in the United States for 5 years as 
permanent residents (3 years in the case of spouses of U.S. 
citizens), show that they have good moral character, 
demonstrate the ability to read, write, speak, and understand 
English, and pass an examination on U.S. Government and 
history. Applicants pay a fee now set at $225 when they file 
their materials and have the option of taking a standardized 
civics test or of having the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service (INS) examiner test them on civics as part of their 
interview.
    The language requirement is waived for those who are at 
least 50 years old and have lived in the United States at least 
20 years or who are at least 55 years old and have lived in the 
United States at least 15 years. Special consideration on the 
civics requirement is given to aliens who are over 65 years old 
and have lived in the United States for at least 20 years. Both 
the language and civics requirements are waived for those who 
are unable to comply due to physical or developmental 
disabilities or mental impairment. Certain requirements are 
waived for those who served in the U.S. military.
    The number of immigrants petitioning to naturalize has 
surged in recent years, jumping from just over half a million 
applicants in fiscal year 1994 to more than 1 million in fiscal 
year 1995 (table J-1). There were an unprecedented 1.6 million 
petitions in fiscal year 1997, but the number fell to 720,468 
petitions in fiscal year 1999. The INS estimates that about 6 
million permanent resident aliens are eligible to apply for 
naturalization. Estimates of the proportion of immigrants who 
ultimately become citizens vary by the methods in which the 
data are collected but traditionally have ranged from 30 to 40 
percent (Wasem, 1995).
    There are several factors that may account for the 
increase, as well as the leveling off in 1998-99, in 
naturalization petitions, most notably the fact that the 2.8 
million aliens who legalized through the Immigration Reform and 
Control Act of 1986 became eligible to naturalize, thus 
creating a one-time-only surge in the number of people seeking 
to naturalize. In addition to the Immigration Reform and 
Control Act legalized population, there has been a steady rise 
over the past 2 decades in the overall number of legal 
immigrants to the United States. Indeed, immigration during the 
15-year period 1981-95 was almost twice that of the previous 15 
years. This increased level of immigration, in turn, has 
increased the pool of people eligible to naturalize (Vialet, 
1997).

                                  TABLE J-1.--NATURALIZATION CASELOAD, 1990-99
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Petitions       Petitions       Petitions
                           Fiscal year                                 filed         approved         denied
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 1990...........................................................         233,843         270,101           6,516
1991............................................................         206,668         308,058           6,268
1992............................................................         342,269         240,252          19,293
1993............................................................         522,298         314,681          39,931
1994............................................................         558,139         417,847          42,574
1995............................................................       1,012,538         500,892          49,117
1996............................................................       1,347,474       1,148,574         244,001
1997............................................................       1,571,797         582,478         130,676
1998............................................................         794,749         473,152         137,395
1999............................................................         720,468         872,485         380,202
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note.--As of September 30, 1999, a total of 1,359,135 cases were pending.

Source: Immigration and Naturalization Service, Statistics Division.


                             Illegal Aliens

    Illegal aliens are those noncitizens who either enter the 
United States surreptitiously; i.e., enter without inspection 
by INS, or overstay the term of their nonimmigrant visas 
(tourist or student visas). According to the most recently 
available INS data, the estimated resident illegal alien 
population was 5 million as of October 1996 (U.S. Immigration 
and Naturalization Service, 1997). Those entering without 
inspection made up 59 percent (2.9 million) of the total, while 
visa overstays made up the remaining 41 percent (2.1 million). 
The annual growth in the resident illegal alien population was 
estimated at 275,000.
    Seven States accounted for 83 percent of the illegal 
population, led by California at 40 percent. The other States, 
in order, were Texas (14 percent), New York (11 percent), 
Florida (7 percent), Illinois (6 percent), New Jersey (3 
percent), and Arizona (2 percent). Mexico dominated the sending 
countries at 54 percent, followed by El Salvador (7 percent), 
Guatemala (3 percent), Canada (2.4 percent) and Haiti (2.1 
percent).

                     Current Foreign-Born Residents

    Currently, the most comprehensive source of information on 
the foreign born is the U.S. Census Bureau's March Current 
Population Survey (CPS). The Census Bureau conducts the CPS 
each month to collect labor force data about the civilian 
noninstitutionalized population. The March Supplement of the 
CPS gathers additional data about income, education, household 
characteristics, and geographic mobility. Because the CPS is a 
sample of the U.S. population, the results are necessarily 
estimates. While the data distinguish between the foreign born 
who have naturalized and those who have not, it does not 
distinguish between types of noncitizens (e.g., permanent, 
temporary, illegal).
    The 1999 CPS found that about 10 percent of U.S. residents 
were foreign born (6.1 percent noncitizens and 3.6 percent 
naturalized citizens; chart J-3). There were 26.4 million 
foreign-born persons living in the United States, of which 37 
percent or 9.9 million had become naturalized citizens. This 
total foreign-born population was up from 24.6 million persons 
in 1996, and the number of naturalized persons had increased 
from 7.9 million in 1996.

         CHART J-3. CITIZENSHIP STATUS OF U.S. RESIDENTS, 1998


    Source: Congressional Research Service analysis of March 
Supplement of Current Population Survey, 1999.


    Based on self-reported data contained in the 1996 and 1998 
CPS, the number of foreign-born persons naturalized increased 
23 percent over this period, in comparison to only a 7 percent 
increase in the number of foreign-born persons and a 1.8 
percent increase in the U.S. population. The rate of 
naturalization increases proportionately with the length of 
residence. Of persons arriving since 1990, 9.2 percent have 
naturalized. This rate increases to 32.4 percent for those who 
arrived during the 1980s, and 55.2 percent among those who 
arrived during the 1970s (Teran & Wasem, 1999).
Region of origin
    Estimates from the latest CPS indicate that of the total 
noncitizen population, the largest percentage (58.8 percent) 
arrived from Latin America, which includes Mexico and Central 
America, South America, and the Caribbean region. The second 
largest group of noncitizens immigrated from Asia (20.8 
percent). Those immigrants who naturalized likewise came in a 
similar rank order from those regions of the world, but the 
proportions are not as sharply skewed toward Latin America and 
Asia (chart J-4).


 CHART J-4. PERCENTAGE OF FOREIGN BORN BY WORLD REGION OF ORIGIN, 1998


    Source: Congressional Research Service analysis of March 
1999 Supplement of Current Population Survey.


 Region and State of residence
    The western part of the United States is home to the 
largest proportion (41.5 percent) of noncitizens (table J-2). 
Just over a quarter (26.6 percent) of noncitizens live in the 
South, and just under a quarter (22.2 percent) live in the 
Northeast. About 10 percent of noncitizens reside in the 
Midwest. By State of residence, almost one-third (31.9 percent) 
of all noncitizens live in the State of California. The State 
with the next largest portion of noncitizens is New York (12.5 
percent). Texas is home to about 10 percent, and Florida the 
home of 7.9 percent of all noncitizens. The only other States 
with noteworthy shares of noncitizens are New Jersey and 
Illinois.
 Poverty levels
    Citizens--whether native born or naturalized--differ 
sharply from noncitizens in terms of poverty levels. As chart 
J-5 illustrates, more than half of noncitizens sampled in the 
CPS were below 200 percent of the poverty level in 1998 and 22 
percent were below 100 percent of the poverty level. By 
contrast, only about 29 percent of native and naturalized 
citizens are below 200 percent of the poverty level, and only 
12 percent of natives and 11 percent of naturalized citizens 
are below 100 percent of the poverty level. There are a variety 
of factors that contribute to this variation, not the least of 
which are education levels and length of time in the United 
States.

 TABLE J-2.--PERCENTAGE OF ALL NATIVE AND FOREIGN-BORN RESIDENTS LIVING
                  IN SIX STATES AND FOUR REGIONS, 1998
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Citizen status
                                     -----------------------------------
             State/region
                                        Native  Naturalized  Noncitizens
------------------------------------------------------------------------
State:
     California.....................      10.3        27.6         31.9
    New York........................       6.1        14.9         12.5
    Texas...........................       7.2         6.8         10.0
    Florida.........................       5.0        10.6          7.9
    New Jersey......................       2.8         4.7          4.2
    Illinois........................       4.6         4.6          4.1
Region:
    Northeast.......................      18.6        26.8         22.2
    Midwest.........................      24.7        11.2          9.8
    South...........................      35.8        26.3         26.6
    West............................      20.9        35.9         41.5
      Total population (millions)...     244.6         9.9         16.6
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: Congressional Research Service analysis of the 1999 Current
  Population Survey March Supplement.



         CHART J-5. POVERTY LEVELS BY CITIZENSHIP STATUS, 1998


    Source: Congressional Research Service analysis of March 
1996 and 1999 Supplement of Current Population Survey.


           NONCITIZENS' ELIGIBILITY FOR BENEFITS PRIOR TO 1996

    Except for the general prohibition on aliens becoming 
public charges, to be discussed below, prior to 1996 there was 
no uniform rule governing which categories of noncitizens were 
eligible for benefits, and no single statute where the rules 
were described. Alien eligibility requirements, if any, were 
set forth in the laws and regulations governing the individual 
Federal assistance programs. Summarizing briefly, lawful 
permanent residents (i.e., immigrants) and other noncitizens 
who were legally present on a permanent basis (e.g., refugees) 
were generally eligible for Federal benefits on the same basis 
as citizens. With the single exception of emergency Medicaid, 
illegal aliens were barred from participation in all the major 
Federal assistance programs that had statutory provisions for 
noncitizens, as were tourists and most other aliens here 
legally in a temporary status (nonimmigrants).
    However, many income, health, education, nutrition, and 
social service programs did not include specific provisions 
regarding alien eligibility; even illegal aliens were potential 
participants. These programs included, for example, the Special 
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children 
(WIC), child nutrition programs, earned income credits, migrant 
health centers, and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).

    The ``Public Charge'' Provision and Development of Eligibility 
                               Standards

    Opposition to the entry of foreign paupers and aliens 
``likely at any time to become a public charge''--language 
found in the INA today--dates from colonial times. The colony 
of Massachusetts enacted legislation in 1645 prohibiting the 
entry of paupers, and in 1700 excluding the infirm unless 
security was given against their becoming public charges. New 
York adopted a similar practice. A bar against the admission of 
``any person unable to take care of himself or herself without 
becoming a public charge'' was included in the act of August 3, 
1882, the first general Federal immigration law.
    Preceding the 1996 legislation, applicants for immigrant 
status could meet the public charge requirement based on their 
own funds, prearranged or prospective employment, or an 
affidavit of support. Affidavits of support were submitted by 
one or more residents of the United States in order to provide 
assurance that the applicant for entry would be supported in 
this country. Starting in the 1930s and continuing until the 
1980s, affidavits of support were administratively required by 
INS but had no specific basis in statute or regulation. Court 
decisions beginning in the 1950s generally held that affidavits 
of support were not legally binding on the U.S. resident 
sponsors (Department of Mental Hygiene v. Renal, 6 N.Y. 2d 791 
(1959); State v. Binder, 356 Mich. 73 (1959)). The 
unenforceability of affidavits of support led to the adoption 
of legislation in the late 1970s and early 1980s intended to 
make them more effective.
    Despite immigration policy explicitly designed to exclude 
potential public charges, Federal assistance laws for specific 
programs contained no eligibility restrictions based on 
immigration status until the early 1970s. In the absence of 
Federal law, State governments enacted restrictions, usually 
durational residency requirements, on the eligibility of legal 
aliens for assistance under State or joint Federal-State 
programs. However, in the landmark 1971 decision Graham v. 
Richardson (403 U.S. 365), the U.S. Supreme Court declared 
these State restrictions to be unconstitutional. The Supreme 
Court found that they violated the equal protection clause of 
the 14th amendment and that they encroached upon the exclusive 
Federal power to regulate immigration.
    Beginning with the new SSI Program in 1972, Federal 
statutory and regulatory alien eligibility criteria were 
established for the major Federal assistance programs. In 
addition to meeting the financial need and family structure 
criteria applicable to U.S. citizens, noncitizens were required 
either to be lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or 
otherwise ``permanently residing in the United States under 
color of law'' in order to be eligible for SSI, Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid, or food stamps. These 
criteria were adopted with the intent of barring participation 
by temporary nonimmigrants and particularly by illegal aliens.
    In response to concerns about the unenforceability of 
affidavits of support and the perceived abuse of the welfare 
system by some newly arrived immigrants, legislation was 
enacted in the early 1980s limiting the availability of SSI, 
AFDC, and food stamps to sponsored immigrants. The authorizing 
legislation for the three programs was amended to provide that, 
for the purpose of determining financial eligibility, 
immigrants who had used an affidavit of support to meet the 
public charge requirement would be deemed to have some portion 
of their immigration sponsors' income and resources available 
to them. The sponsor-to-alien deeming period was set at 3 years 
for the three programs. To help finance legislation providing 
extended unemployment benefits, this period was temporarily 
increased from 3 years to 5 years for SSI, effective January 1, 
1994-October 1, 1996. For those immigrants still covered under 
the pre-1996 rules, the duration of SSI deeming has reverted to 
3 years.
    The 1996 welfare and immigration reform laws significantly 
expanded the use of sponsor-to-alien deeming as a means of 
restricting the participation of new immigrants in Federal 
means-tested programs. It also established new, legally 
enforceable responsibilities for sponsors who pledge support 
through affidavits of support. Both deeming and the affidavits 
of support upon which deeming is based are intended to 
implement the provision of the INA that excludes aliens who 
appear ``likely at any time to become a public charge.''

                     State and Local Law Before 1996

    In 1971, the Supreme Court held in Graham v. Richardson 
that the equal protection clause and the exclusive authority of 
Congress to regulate immigration barred States from 
distinguishing between citizens and legal aliens in providing 
State-funded or joint Federal-State benefits. More recently, 
the Supreme Court has recognized that States do have some 
authority to enact laws that adversely affect illegal aliens, 
at least where these laws mirror Federal immigration policy. 
However, this authority is circumscribed. In 1982, the Supreme 
Court held in Plyler v. Doe (457 U.S. 202) that States could 
not deny illegal alien children a free public education, in 
part because of the absence of Federal guidance on the issue.
    State regulation of alien access to State and local 
assistance programs continued to be governed by the Graham and 
Plyler decisions. For example, several State supreme courts 
cited Graham to overturn State laws that imposed sponsor-to-
alien deeming under State cash assistance programs. In a later 
example, a U.S. district court judge overturned large parts of 
California's proposition 187, a ballot initiative that denied 
illegal aliens education and other State-provided services 
(League of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson, 908 F. 
Supp. 755 (C.D. Cal. 1995)). Though the judge ruled that the 
State did have leeway to deny illegal aliens many services (not 
including elementary and secondary education), she also held 
that the State could not make its own determinations of the 
legality of individuals' immigration status nor impose its own 
alienage standards on services funded at least in part with 
Federal funds.
    Because Graham left little leeway for State regulation of 
legal permanent residents, the States were required to provide 
needy permanent residents with the same assistance they 
provided needy citizens. This practice also was true under 
joint Federal-State programs, such as AFDC and Medicaid, which 
were governed by broad Federal alien eligibility rules even 
though the Federal Government funded only a portion of 
assistance. Broad alien eligibility rules set by Congress also 
indirectly triggered entitlement to significant State SSI 
supplements. Also, States could not differentiate between legal 
aliens and citizens under State-funded General Assistance (GA) 
Programs. According to an October 1996 report by the Urban 
Institute, cash or in-kind assistance was provided to the needy 
under GA Programs in all or part of 41 States (Uccello et al., 
1996).
    Exercising their broader authority with regard to illegal 
aliens, the GA laws of 36 States limited eligibility to 
citizens and legal residents. Though many States had thus 
attempted to limit expenditures for illegal aliens, some of the 
largest State outlays for illegal aliens--elementary and 
secondary education, for example--remained beyond State 
control.

                      1996-98 Legislative Revisions

    In the 1996 welfare reform law (Public Law 104-193), 
Congress drew a sharp distinction between citizens and 
noncitizens in determining eligibility for welfare programs. 
Congress also concluded that the primary responsibility for 
assisting needy immigrants should be borne by the immigrants' 
sponsors rather than the government. To their authors, the new 
restrictions were a logical extension of the policies 
historically embodied by the public charge provision. Thus, 
most noncitizens were made ineligible for federally financed 
welfare benefits, effective during the summer and fall of 1997. 
Only a few categories of legal immigrants were left eligible 
(see below).
    Public Law 105-33, BBA 1997, modified the 1996 
legislation's policy of restricting alien eligibility for 
Federal benefits; however, these modifications were limited in 
scope. Only two programs, SSI, which provides cash assistance 
for needy persons who are aged, blind, or disabled, and, to a 
lesser degree, Medicaid, were substantially affected by the 
changes to noncitizens' benefits in the BBA. Similarly, 
Congress expanded food stamp provisions in Public Law 105-185, 
the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act 
of 1998 to include legal immigrants who were here by August 22, 
1996, and who were 65 years old or older, who were disabled or 
subsequently became disabled, or who were under 18 years old. 
Generally, only noncitizens here before August 22, 1996, the 
enactment date of the 1996 welfare law, were affected by the 
1997-98 modifications (except for new entries who benefit from 
a 2-year extension of refugee eligibility). The basic policy 
laid out by the 1996 welfare law remains essentially unchanged 
for noncitizens entering after its enactment.

                ALIEN ELIGIBILITY FOR FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

    As revised in 1997 and 1998, the 1996 welfare law and, to a 
lesser extent, the 1996 immigration law, restricted alien 
eligibility for Federal benefits in three basic ways:
 1. They barred access to programs conditioned on alien status;
 2. They required legally binding affidavits of support from 
        immigrants' sponsors; and
 3. They required that sponsors' income be deemed available to 
        immigrants in determining eligibility for most means-
        tested programs.

                              Program Bars

    Until 1996, aliens who were lawful permanent residents or 
who were otherwise legally present on a permanent basis (e.g., 
refugees) were generally eligible for Federal benefits on the 
same basis as citizens. The 1996 welfare law, however, added 
new rules barring ``qualified aliens'' from participation in 
Federal assistance programs. Qualified aliens include aliens 
admitted for legal permanent residence (also known as 
immigrants), refugees, aliens paroled into the United States 
for at least 1 year, and aliens granted asylum or related 
relief. The 1996 immigration law added certain abused spouses 
and children as another class of qualified aliens, and BBA 1997 
added Cuban/Haitian entrants (the terms ``qualified alien'' and 
``legal immigrant'' are used interchangeably in this appendix.) 
The laws made several exceptions to their eligibility changes, 
so that the restrictions discussed below do not apply to 
qualified aliens who are veterans or certain active duty 
personnel and their spouses and dependent unmarried children; 
or those who meet a 10-year work requirement. In order to 
satisfy the work requirement, the immigrant must meet a 40 
qualifying quarters test. As defined by the 1996 welfare reform 
law, a qualifying quarter is a 3-month work period with 
sufficient income to qualify as a Social Security quarter and, 
with respect to periods beginning after 1996, during which the 
worker did not receive Federal means-tested assistance. Work 
performed by the alien, the alien's parent while the alien was 
under age 18, and the alien's spouse (provided the alien 
remains married to the spouse or the spouse is deceased) all 
may be counted as qualifying quarters.
    The rules barring legal immigrants from benefits fall into 
three general categories, summarized below. It should be noted 
that none of these rules apply to aliens once they become 
naturalized citizens. The effect of these rules as they apply 
to SSI, food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy 
Families (TANF), and SSBG is summarized in table J-3, together 
with the change from the law prior to 1996.

                           TABLE J-3.--ALIEN ELIGIBILITY FOR SELECTED FEDERAL PROGRAMS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                TANF (formerly
                                     Supplemental                                             AFDC) and Title XX
          Alien category            Security Income       Food stamps          Medicaid         Social Services
                                                                                                  Block Grant
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Immigrants: \1\
     Eligibility under prior law   Yes, with          Yes, with            Yes..............  Yes, with deeming
                                   deeming.\2\.        deeming.\2\.                            for AFDC.\2\
     Eligibility under current
     law.
        a) Here before 8/22/96    Yes, if on rolls 8/ Yes, if here by 8/  Yes, for SSI-       State option with
         (Public Law 104-193       22/96 or disabled   22/96 and if 65     derivative          Federal money.
         enactment).               subsequently.       or older at that    benefits or
                                                       time, disabled or   emergency
                                                       subsequently        services.
                                                       disabled, or        Otherwise, State
                                                       under 18 at that    option.
                                                       time.
         b) New entrants--1st 5   No................  No................   Emergency only...  Not with Federal
         years after arrival.                                                                  money; States may
                                                                                               use State funding
         c) New--after 5 years..  No................   No...............  Yes, for emergency  State option with
                                                                           services.           Federal money and
                                                                           Otherwise, State    deeming.
                                                                           option, with
                                                                           deeming.
 Refugees and asylees: \3\
     Eligibility under prior law  Yes...............   Yes..............  Yes...............   Yes.
     Eligibility under current    Yes...............   Yes..............  Yes...............  Yes.
     law--1st 7 years after
     entry or grant of asylum.
 Nonimmigrants \4\ and
 undocumented aliens \5\
     Eligibility under prior law  No................   No...............  Emergency only....   SSBG only.
     Eligibility under current    No................  No................   Emergency only...  No.
     law.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Immigrants.'' Also known as permanent residents and green card holders. May live here indefinitely unless
  they commit a deportable act. Parolees admitted temporarily for at least l year under the Attorney General's
  immigration parole power may receive the same benefits.
\2\ ``Deeming'' refers to the attribution of the sponsor's income to the immigrant in determining financial
  eligibility, and is applied to SSI, food stamps, and AFDC (replaced by TANF) for 3 years after entry (5 years
  for SSI as of January 1, 1996).
\3\ ``Refugees and asylees.'' Status is based on individualized persecution abroad, and they adjust to legal
  permanent residents after 1 year and are treated as other ``qualified aliens'' after 7 years. This category
  also includes Cuban/Haitian entrants and Amerasians.
\4\ ``Nonimmigrants.'' Admitted temporarily for a limited purpose. Includes, e.g., students, visitors, and
  temporary workers.
\5\ Also known as illegal aliens. Includes aliens here in violation of immigration law for whom no legal relief
  or recognition has been extended.

Note.--Hmong immigrants and certain Native Americans living along the Mexican and Canadian borders have special
  access to programs, according to program statutes.

Source: Congressional Research Service.


                              Permanent Bar

    Congress imposed a permanent bar to access by legal 
immigrants who entered the United States after August 22, 1996, 
to two federally financed programs. These programs are SSI, 
which provides cash aid for needy persons who are aged, blind, 
or disabled; and food stamps, which provides certain low-income 
households with monthly benefits to enable them to afford more 
adequate diets.

                              State Option

    The second set of restrictions generally applies to three 
major Federal/State grant programs: Medicaid, TANF, and SSBG. 
Medicaid provides medical assistance for low-income persons who 
are aged, blind, or disabled, or members of needy families with 
dependent children. TANF is a block grant program established 
by the 1996 reform law. TANF provides Federal funds to States 
for temporary cash and other assistance for needy families. 
SSBG is also a State block grant program, providing Federal 
funds to States for social services aimed at preventing 
dependency and remedying problems associated with it.
    States may permit or prohibit participation by legal 
immigrants who entered the United States before enactment of 
the welfare law (August 22, 1996) from Medicaid, TANF, and 
SSBG. Legal immigrants entering the United States after August 
22, 1996, are barred for 5 years from all benefits under these 
programs except emergency medical assistance. Legal immigrants 
ineligible for TANF, however, may receive State-funded benefits 
if they meet other program requirements in over half of the 
States. After 5 years, the decision as to whether legal 
immigrants may participate in Medicaid, TANF, and SSBG rests 
with the States, subject to a rule deeming sponsors' income and 
resources to be available to the immigrant, as discussed below. 
Several States, including California, offer a full array of 
public assistance to legal immigrants not eligible for 
federally financed benefits.
    The 5-year bar discussed previously does not apply to 
refugees and asylees, nor does the State option to restrict 
Medicaid benefits apply to them in the same manner that it does 
to immigrants. Refugees and asylees who meet the other program 
criteria are eligible for full Medicaid benefits for 7 years 
after entering as refugees or being granted asylum; they are 
eligible for TANF and SSBG benefits for 5 years. After these 
respective periods of time, refugees and asylees are subject to 
the same State option provision that applies to legal 
immigrants.
    State options also are available under food stamp law. As 
of June 2000, 13 States were exercising their option under the 
terms of Public Law 105-18 to pay for the provision of food 
stamp benefits to some or all noncitizens who are ineligible 
(California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, 
Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode 
Island, Washington, and Wisconsin). More than 100,000 persons 
were receiving food stamps through this option in mid-2000, at 
a total estimated cost of between $5 and $6 million a month. 
The overwhelming majority (above 80 percent) of these 
recipients were in California. In earlier years (before the 
November 1998 liberalization of noncitizen eligibility rules 
for federally financed food stamps), the number of those 
assisted under this State option approached 200,000 persons at 
a monthly cost of over $10 million.
    Of the 13 States exercising their choice to provide food 
stamp benefits to legal immigrants, all but 5 (Illinois, 
Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio) have chosen to fund 
food stamps for all legal immigrants ineligible for federally 
financed benefits. Illinois limits its help to parents of 
eligible children and 60 to 64-year-olds who entered by August 
22, 1996. Maryland covers children under 18 entering after 
August 22, 1996. New Jersey limits its aid to parents of 
eligible children, the elderly (65 or older) arriving after 
August 22, 1996, and unemployable recipients of GA. New York 
pays for benefits to the elderly (60-67 years old) living in 
the same county since August 22, 1996. Ohio covers only a few 
SSI recipients who resided in the State as of August 22, 1996, 
and is phasing out its program.
    Finally, States have the option to grant or deny any child 
nutrition benefits (e.g., Summer Feeding Programs, meals in day 
care programs, WIC; but not school meals), commodity 
supplemental and emergency food benefits, and commodity 
benefits for Indians on reservations based on alien status.

                             Other Programs

    Most qualified aliens arriving after August 22, 1996, are 
barred from most other Federal means-tested programs for 5 
years after their arrival. Their participation after that time 
is subject to sponsor-to-alien deeming, as it is for Medicaid, 
TANF, and SSBG. However, a number of programs are exempt from 
both the 5-year bar and sponsor-to-alien deeming (table J-4). 
These include:
 1. Treatment under Medicaid for emergency medical conditions 
        (other than those related to an organ transplant);
 2. Short-term, in-kind emergency disaster relief;
 3. Assistance under the National School Lunch Act and the 
        Child Nutrition Act;
 4. Immunizations against diseases and testing for and 
        treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases;
 5. Foster care and adoption assistance under title IV of the 
        Social Security Act, unless the foster parent or 
        adoptive parent is an alien other than a qualified 
        alien;
 6. Education assistance under the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965, specified titles of the Higher 
        Education Act of 1965, or specified titles of the 
        Public Health Service Act;
 7. Benefits under the Head Start Act;
 8. Benefits under the Job Training Partnership Act; and
 9. Services or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis 
        counseling and intervention, and short-term shelters) 
        designated by the Attorney General as: delivering in-
        kind services at the community level; providing 
        assistance without individual determinations of each 
        recipient's needs; and being necessary for the 
        protection of life and safety.
    Emergency services, school meals, and community-level 
services are available for all aliens; other nutrition programs 
may be provided to any alien at State option. The Attorney 
General published a list defining noncash community-level 
services exempt from the various prohibitions (Federal 
Register, 1996). Among other services, it includes senior 
nutrition programs, such as Meals on Wheels.

       Expanded Sponsor-to-Alien Deeming and Affidavits of Support

    The other two restrictions on alien access to public 
benefits included in the 1996 welfare and immigration laws are 
legally binding affidavits of support and sponsor-to-alien 
deeming rules. Both are expansions of previously existing law 
and practice, and both have their roots in the public charge 
provision of immigration law, which has been a feature of U.S. 
immigration law since 1882.
Affidavits of support
    The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was amended in 
1996 by the addition of a new section 213A, which provides a 
statutory basis for affidavits of support and greatly extends 
their scope, as compared with pre-1996 law:
 1. It makes them legally binding documents effective either 
        until the sponsored immigrant naturalizes or meets the 
        40-quarter work requirement;
 2. It requires affidavits of all family-based immigrants and 
        employment-based immigrants coming to work for 
        relatives;
 3. It requires sponsors to have an income of at least 125 
        percent of the Federal poverty level and to agree to 
        support the sponsored immigrant with resources that 
        would equal at least 125 percent of the poverty level; 
        and
 4. It provides that both government agencies and sponsored 
        immigrants can sue sponsors for failure to meet their 
        obligations.
Expanded deeming rules
    A significant difference from previous law is that all the 
sponsor's income and resources and that of the sponsor's spouse 
is deemed to be available to the immigrant in determining 
financial eligibility. Coupled with the fact that government 
agencies providing benefits to sponsored immigrants are legally 
entitled to sue the sponsors, the clear intent of the new 
deeming provisions is to all but bar immigrants from 
participation in means-tested programs. The sponsor, rather 
than the Federal Government, is expected to be financially 
responsible for immigrants who need assistance.
    The sponsor-to-alien deeming rules have also been expanded 
in terms of duration and the number of programs and immigrants 
covered.
 1. Deeming remains in effect until the immigrant naturalizes 
        or meets the 40-quarter work requirement;
 2. Deeming rules apply to all Federal means-tested programs 
        except those expressly exempted by law (and to 
        Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and food stamps, 
        from which immigrants are barred). The excepted 
        programs are the same as those exempted from the 5-year 
        bar (table J-4);
 3. Deeming applies to all sponsored immigrants, a group 
        expanded by the immigration law's requirement that all 
        family-based immigrants have affidavits of support.

                    TABLE J-4.--ALIEN ELIGIBILITY PROVISIONS FOR SELECTED FEDERAL BENEFITS UNDER CURRENT WELFARE AND IMMIGRATION LAWS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Provisions        Qualified aliens regardless of entry date   Qualified aliens entering after 8/22/96              Nonqualified aliens
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Restricted programs.   Food stamps, unless age 65 or older by 8/   For 5 years after entry, Federal means-    Most Federal public benefits (with
                         22/96, subsequently disabled, or under      tested public benefits (with exceptions    exceptions noted below).
                         age 18; SSI, unless on rolls by 8/22/96     noted below).
                         or here then and later disabled.           Thereafter, the restrictions in the left
                        At State option: \1\ Temporary Assistance    column apply.
                         for Needy Families, Social Services Block
                         Grant, and Medicaid (other than emergency
                         services and SSI-related).
Programs excepted from  ``Qualified aliens'' here before 8/22/96    Emergency medical services, disaster       Emergency medical services, disaster
 restrictions.           not barred by alienage status from          relief, public health assistance,          relief, public health assistance,
                         programs other than those listed above.     community level services, school lunch,    community services, housing assistance
                                                                     child nutrition, foster care and           received at enactment, Social Security
                                                                     adoption assistance, Head Start, certain   and Medicare benefits for lawful aliens,
                                                                     job training, elementary, secondary, and   and school lunch and breakfast. Other
                                                                     higher education, and Public Health        child nutrition and food distribution
                                                                     Service Act education assistance.          programs at State option. (Does not
                                                                                                                change law regarding public education.)
Individuals excepted    Refugees and asylees--7 years for SSI,      Refugees and asylees (as in left column);  Nonimmigrants only for contracts or
 from restrictions       Medicaid, and food stamps and 5 years for   immigrants with 40 Social Security work    licenses related to their authorized
                         other programs; immigrants with 40 Social   quarters (including quarters worked by     employment, and for benefits under
                         Security work quarters (including           spouse/parent); \2\ and alien veterans,    reciprocal treaty agreements.
                         quarters worked by a spouse/parent); \2\    certain active duty personnel, and
                         and alien veterans, certain active duty     families.
                         personnel, and families.
Modification of         New deeming rules only applicable to        After 5-year bar, for Federal means-       Not applicable.
 sponsor-to-alien        qualified aliens entering after 8/22/96     tested programs until alien naturalizes
 deeming                 and with affidavits complying with new      or has 40 Social Security work quarters
                         INA requirements--see next column.          (including quarters worked by a spouse/
                                                                     parent); \2\ with exceptions similar to
                                                                     5-year bar.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ State option begins 5 years after entry for qualified aliens entering after August 22, 1996.
\2\ For quarters worked after 1996, no quarter during which the alien received public assistance may be counted toward the 40-quarter exception.

Note.--Hmong immigrants and certain Native Americans living along the Mexican and Canadian borders have special access to programs, according to program
  statutes.

Source: Congressional Research Service.


                Eligibility Standards for Illegal Aliens

Federal benefits
    The 1996 welfare reform law denies most Federal benefits, 
regardless of whether they are means tested, to illegal aliens. 
The class of benefits denied is broad and covers grants, 
contracts, loans, and licenses as well as retirement, welfare, 
health, disability, housing, food, unemployment, postsecondary 
education, and similar benefits. So defined, this bar covers 
many programs whose enabling statutes do not individually make 
citizenship or immigration status a criterion for 
participation. Thus, programs that previously were not 
individually restricted--the earned income credit, SSBG, and 
migrant health centers, for example--became unavailable to 
illegal aliens, unless they fall within the act's limited 
exceptions. These programmatic exceptions include:
 1. Treatment under Medicaid for emergency medical conditions 
        (other than those related to an organ transplant);
 2. Short-term, in-kind emergency disaster relief;
 3. Immunizations against immunizable diseases and testing for 
        and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases;
 4. Services or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis 
        counseling and intervention, and short-term shelters) 
        designated by the Attorney General as: delivering in-
        kind services at the community level; providing 
        assistance without individual determinations of each 
        recipient's needs; and being necessary for the 
        protection of life and safety (see above); and
 5. To the extent that an alien was receiving assistance on the 
        date of enactment, programs administered by the 
        Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban 
        Development, programs under title V of the Housing Act 
        of 1949, and assistance under section 306C of the 
        Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act. Subtitle E 
        of title V of the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
        Immigrant Responsibility Act (Public Law 104-208) later 
        facilitated the removal of illegal aliens from housing 
        assistance.
    The 1996 welfare reform law also permits illegal aliens to 
receive Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits 
under title II of the Social Security Act if the benefits are 
protected by that title or by a treaty or are paid under 
applications made before August 22, 1996. The act also states 
that individuals who are eligible for free public education 
benefits under State and local law shall remain eligible to 
receive school lunch and school breakfast benefits. (The act 
itself does not address a State's obligation to grant all 
aliens equal access to education under the Supreme Court's 
decision in Plyler v. Doe.) Beyond these nutrition benefits, 
the act neither prohibits nor requires a State to provide 
illegal aliens other benefits funded under the National School 
Lunch Act, the Emergency Food Assistance Act, or similar food 
programs.
State benefits
    Unlike earlier Federal law, the 1996 welfare reforms 
expressly bar illegal aliens from most State- and locally-
funded benefits. The restrictions on these benefits parallel 
the restrictions on Federal benefits. Illegal aliens are 
generally barred from State and local government contracts, 
licenses, grants, loans, and assistance. Exceptions also are 
similar to those for Federal means-tested programs.
    The restrictions on State and local benefits do not apply 
to activities that are funded in part by Federal funds; these 
activities are regulated under the 1996 law as Federal 
benefits. Furthermore, the law states that nothing in it is to 
be construed as addressing eligibility for basic public 
education. Finally, the 1996 law allows the States, through 
enactment of new State laws, to provide illegal aliens with 
State and local benefits that otherwise are restricted.
    Despite the federally imposed bar and the State flexibility 
provided by the 1996 law, States still may be required to 
expend a significant amount of State funds for illegal aliens. 
Public elementary and secondary education for illegal aliens 
remains compelled by judicial decision, and payment for 
emergency medical services for illegal aliens remains compelled 
by Federal law. Meanwhile, certain other costs attributable to 
illegal aliens, such as criminal justice costs, result from the 
continued presence of illegal aliens.

             NONCITIZENS' USE OF FEDERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

    Some of the concern with the use of public assistance by 
legal immigrants began in 1993 in response to a study by the 
Social Security Administration (SSA). The subject was the use 
of SSI by legal aliens entering either as lawfully admitted 
immigrants or ``under color of law.'' SSA found that permanent 
legal aliens made up more than 25 percent of aged SSI 
recipients. Subsequent data presented by SSA indicated a steady 
increase from 1982 through 1995 in the number and percentage of 
lawfully admitted aliens receiving SSI, and an increased 
percentage of total beneficiaries who were legal aliens. 
Significant numbers of refugees were being admitted during this 
period. Legal aliens entering ``under color of law,'' most of 
whom were refugees, accounted for 26 percent of the total 
number of legal alien SSI recipients in December 1995 (Ponce, 
1996).
    In the ensuing years, the question of whether legal 
immigrants disproportionately relied on public assistance arose 
frequently, and empirical research, such as the SSA study 
discussed above, yielded qualified responses of ``sometimes'' 
and ``under certain circumstances.'' Following the substantial 
revisions of welfare law in 1996-98, the question of whether 
public assistance usage by legal immigrants has changed as a 
result of the new eligibility rules has come to the fore. This 
section draws on analysis of administrative program 
participation data and the CPS to explore this question.

                 Analysis of Program Participation Data

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    The percentage of the SSI caseload that is noncitizens has 
dipped somewhat in recent years, after rising steadily in the 
1980s and early 1990s (table J-5). It stood at 10.2 percent or 
669,630 participants in 1998 after peaking at 12.1 percent or 
785,410 participants in 1995. In 1998, noncitizens accounted 
for about 27 percent of all aged SSI recipients, down from a 
high of 32 percent in 1995. Noncitizens accounted for 5.8 
percent of disabled (or blind) recipients in 1998, down from 
6.5 percent in 1995.

   TABLE J-5.--NUMBER OF NONCITIZENS RECEIVING SSI PAYMENTS AND NONCITIZEN RECIPIENTS AS A PERCENT OF ALL SSI
                                   RECIPIENTS BY ELIGIBILITY CATEGORY, 1982-98
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        Total                 Aged           Blind and disabled
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Percent               Percent               Percent
                   December                                     of                    of                    of
                                                Noncitizens   total   Noncitizens   total   Noncitizens   total
                                                               SSI                   SSI                   SSI
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1982..........................................     127,900       3.3      91,900       5.9      36,000       1.6
1983..........................................     151,200       3.9     106,600       7.0      44,600       1.9
1984..........................................     181,100       4.5     127,600       8.3      53,500       2.1
1985..........................................     210,800       5.1     146,500       9.7      64,300       2.4
1986..........................................     244,300       5.7     165,300      11.2      79,000       2.8
1987..........................................     282,500       6.4     188,000      12.9      94,500       3.2
1988..........................................     320,300       7.2     213,900      14.9     106,400       3.5
1989..........................................     370,300       8.1     245,700      17.1     124,600       4.0
1990..........................................     435,600       9.0     282,400      19.4     153,200       4.6
1991..........................................     519,660      10.2     329,690      22.5     189,970       5.2
1992..........................................     601,430      10.8     372,930      25.4     228,500       5.6
1993..........................................     683,150      11.4     416,420      28.2     266,730       5.9
1994..........................................     738,140      11.7     440,000      30.0     298,140       6.2
1995..........................................     785,410      12.1     459,220      31.8     326,190       6.3
1996..........................................     724,990      11.0     417,360      29.5     307,630       5.9
1997..........................................     650,830      10.0     367,200      27.0     283,630       5.5
1998..........................................     669,630      10.2     364,980      27.4     304,650       5.8
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: Social Security Administration (1999, p. 303, Table 7.E6).


    The largest concentration of noncitizens who received SSI 
benefits lived in California, 260,770 recipients in 1998. 
California's share of the noncitizen SSI beneficiaries (39 
percent) was greater than its overall proportion of noncitizens 
(31.9 percent) in the United States. New York was second with 
107,860 noncitizen SSI recipients. Likewise, New York's 
percentage of the noncitizen SSI caseload (16.1 percent) was 
greater than its overall proportion (12.5 percent) of the 
noncitizen population. Florida and Texas followed with 63,540 
and 50,410 noncitizen beneficiaries respectively. Florida's 
proportion (9.5 percent) was somewhat higher than its share of 
the noncitizen population (7.9 percent), and Texas' percentage 
(7.5 percent) was notably less than its proportion of the 
noncitizen population (10.0 percent).
    Although noncitizens from Latin America comprised an 
estimated 58.8 percent of noncitizens in the United States, 
they accounted for only 42.4 percent of the SSI noncitizens 
caseload in 1998. Noncitizens from Asia were an estimated 20.8 
percent of noncitizen residents, but made up 33.7 percent of 
noncitizens who receive SSI. Noncitizens from the former Soviet 
Union were an estimated 2.7 percent of of noncitizens in the 
United States, yet they were 12.1 percent of all noncitizens 
receiving SSI. These data lend weight to the view that 
noncitizens from refugee-sending parts of the world are more 
likely to rely on SSI. Table J-6 presents the country of origin 
for SSI recipients in 1998.

 TABLE J-6.--NUMBER OF NONCITIZENS RECEIVING FEDERALLY ADMINISTERED SSI
              PAYMENTS BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN, DECEMBER 1998
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Blind and
          Country of origin              Total       Aged      disabled
------------------------------------------------------------------------
North America                              3,260         900       2,360
    Canada..........................       3,250         900       2,350
Central America                          153,490      83,770      69,720
    Mexico..........................     130,290      69,280      61,010
    El Salvador.....................       9,830       6,570       3,260
    Guatemala.......................       4,070       2,540       1,530
    Other...........................       9,300       5,380       3,920
South America                             24,610      15,380       9,230
    Columbia........................       6,330       3,990       2,340
    Ecuador.........................       5,400       3,280       2,210
    Peru............................       4,370       3,360       1,010
    Other...........................       8,510       4,750       3,760
Carribbean                               106,040      53,000      53,040
    Cuba............................      49,340      26,740      22,600
    Dominican Republic..............      32,210      13,040      19,170
    Haiti...........................      10,300       6,460       3,840
    Other...........................      14,190       6,760       7,430
Africa                                     6,690       2,920       3,770
    Somalia.........................       1,240         540         700
    Cape Verde Island...............       1,150         740         410
    Ethiopia........................       1,030         360         670
    Other...........................       3,270       1,280       1,990
Asia                                     225,600     124,230     101,370
    Vietnam.........................      51,600      21,370      30,230
    China...........................      31,600      26,600       5,000
    Laos............................      25,160       5,850      19,310
    Philippines.....................      22,350      18,100       4,250
    Cambodia........................      19,860       3,250      16,610
    Korea...........................      19,200      14,560       4,640
    Other...........................      55,830      34,500      21,330
Middle East                               13,580       7,080       6,500
    Lebanon.........................       3,330       1,660       1,670
    Syria...........................       2,460       1,240       1,220
    Turkey..........................       2,300       1,630         670
    Other...........................       5,490       2,550       2,940
Former Soviet Republics                   81,140      47,740      33,400
Europe                                    34,280      17,500      16,780
    Portugal........................       5,470       3,470       2,000
    Italy...........................       3,620       1,920       1,700
    United Kingdom..................       3,590       1,740       1,850
    Other...........................      21,600      10,370      11,230
Oceania                                    2,310       1,030       1,280
Unidentified                              18,630      11,430       7,200
      Total.........................     669,630     364,980     304,650
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: SSI 10-Percent Sample, December 1998.


Family cash assistance
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data on 
characteristics of Aid to Families with Dependent Children 
(AFDC) recipients indicate that, as a percentage of total adult 
AFDC recipients, noncitizens legally in the United States who 
receive AFDC (now TANF) increased from 7.0 percent in fiscal 
year 1989 to 12.3 percent in fiscal year 1996, and then dropped 
to 11.0 percent in 1998 (U.S. Department, 1990, 1997, 1999). 
Since the AFDC/TANF recipient data are more limited than SSI 
recipient data, tables detailing characteristics and components 
of noncitizen usage are not available.
    Once again, California tops the list of States with high 
welfare participation. Fully 27 percent of its 611,799 TANF 
recipients were noncitizens in 1998 (table J-7). Calculated in 
terms of percentage of all adult noncitizens receiving TANF, 
Californians comprised 57 percent of adult noncitizens in the 
United States on TANF in 1998. New York followed California 
with 15.8 percent of its 321,961 recipients who were adult 
noncitizens or 18 percent of noncitizens in the United States 
on TANF. Texas and Florida were distant third and fourth places 
with 4 percent and 3 percent respectively of adult noncitizens 
in the United States on TANF.

     TABLE J-7.--DISTRIBUTION OF ADULT TANF RECIPIENTS BY STATE AND
             CITIZENSHIP STATUS, OCTOBER 1997-SEPTEMBER 1998
                               [In percent]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       All adult  Percent of  Percent of
                State                    TANF       citizen   noncitizen
                                      recipients  recipients  recipients
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Alabama............................        0.49        0.52        0.00
Alaska..............................        0.41        0.45        0.15
 Arizona............................        1.12        1.17        0.76
 Arkansas...........................        0.33        0.36        0.02
 California.........................       23.25       19.24       57.07
 Colorado...........................        0.62        0.70        0.03
 Connecticut........................        1.58        1.71        0.68
 Delaware...........................        0.20        0.23        0.02
 District of Columbia...............        0.72        0.81        0.05
 Florida............................        2.69        2.65        3.26
 Georgia............................        1.87        2.10        0.14
 Guam...............................        0.09        0.08        0.13
 Hawaii.............................        0.59        0.65        0.13
 Idaho..............................        0.04        0.05        0.03
 Illinois...........................        5.83        6.46        1.22
 Indiana............................        1.20        1.35        0.10
 Iowa...............................        0.87        0.98        0.04
 Kansas.............................        0.40        0.44        0.12
 Kentucky...........................        1.47        1.66        0.09
 Louisiana..........................        1.39        1.56        0.08
 Maine..............................        0.53        0.59        0.07
 Maryland...........................        1.39        1.56        0.10
 Massachusetts......................        2.03        2.01        2.34
 Michigan...........................        4.19        4.57        1.48
 Minnesota..........................        1.76        1.77        1.88
 Mississippi........................        0.53        0.61        0.00
 Missouri...........................        1.78        2.00        0.15
 Montana............................        0.29        0.32        0.03
 Nebraska...........................        0.42        0.30        0.17
 Nevada.............................        0.30        0.31        0.18
 New Hampshire......................        0.19        0.21        0.04
 New Jersey.........................        0.23        2.53        0.00
 New Mexico.........................        0.80        0.87        0.28
 New York...........................       12.24       11.44       17.58
 North Carolina.....................        1.95        1.84        0.16
 North Dakota.......................        0.10        0.11        0.02
 Ohio...............................        4.28        4.79        0.54
 Oklahoma...........................        0.66        0.74        0.04
 Oregon \1\.........................        0.63        0.62        0.44
 Pennsylvania.......................        4.59        5.00        1.71
 Puerto Rico........................        0.11        0.12        0.03
 Rhode Island.......................        0.69        0.67        0.91
 South Carolina.....................        0.65        0.74        0.03
 South Dakota.......................        0.09        0.10        0.00
 Tennessee..........................        1.51        1.70        0.10
 Texas..............................        4.43        4.57        3.62
 Utah...............................        0.43        0.47        0.17
 Vermont............................        0.29        0.33        0.04
 Virginia...........................        1.47        1.60        0.51
 Virgin Islands.....................        0.01        0.01        0.01
 Washington.........................        2.81        2.79        3.25
 West Virginia......................        0.82        0.93        0.01
 Wisconsin..........................        0.52        0.59        0.00
 Wyoming............................        0.03        0.03        0.00
       Total (in millions)..........       2.631       2.318       0.289
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Oregon's percentages are imputed, not reported.

Source: Congressional Research Service analysis of U.S. Department of
  Health and Human Services data on TANF Program participation, October
  1997-September 1998.


 Food stamps
    The 10-year pattern for noncitizens receiving food stamps 
resembles that of SSI and AFDC/TANF. Specifically, food stamp 
participation by noncitizens crept upward during the early 
1990s, then dropped off by 1998, at which time there were 
approximately 616,000 noncitizens receiving food stamps. After 
enactment of welfare reform in 1996, the percentage of food 
stamp recipients who were noncitizens fell to a 10 year low of 
3.1 percent in 1998. The peak had occurred in 1996 when 
1,847,000 noncitizens comprised 7.1 percent of the 25,926,000 
food stamp recipients.
    California is the State with the largest number of 
noncitizens receiving food stamps, 210,000 in 1998. Its share 
of all noncitizens receiving food stamps was 34 percent. New 
York, Texas, and Florida followed with 15, 12, and 7 percent 
respectively of all noncitizens receiving food stamps in 1998. 
The food stamp quality control sample also recorded information 
on naturalized citizens. Based on these data, New York led with 
23 percent of all food stamp recipients who are naturalized. 
California came in a close second at 21.7 percent, and Florida 
followed with 15.7 percent.

            Analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) Data

    In 1995, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) analyzed 
data from the March 1994 CPS (the first CPS to ask participants 
about their citizenship status) that indicated that, as 
compared with the native born, the foreign born were 
significantly more likely to use SSI, but were not 
significantly more likely to use AFDC or food stamps. In the 
AFDC, Food Stamp, and Medicaid Programs, noncitizens had higher 
participation rates than the native born, but naturalized 
citizens had lower participation rates than the native born. 
However, in the SSI Program both noncitizens and naturalized 
citizens had higher participation rates than native-born 
citizens. This finding was especially true among the aged 
population (O'Grady, 1995).
    In addition to the elderly, another major subgroup of the 
foreign born using welfare appears to be noncitizens from 
refugee-sending countries. While the 1995 CRS study did not 
disaggregate refugees, Urban Institute analysts did try to do 
so in 1996 Senate testimony. Based also on the March 1994 CPS, 
they found that 13.1 percent of foreign born from the major 
refugee-sending countries used AFDC, SSI, or general assistance 
(GA), compared to 5.8 percent of foreign born from other 
countries (Fix et al., 1996).
    The Urban Institute has continued to analyze the CPS for 
noncitizen use of welfare and found changes in usage from 1994 
to 1997. Based on receipt of AFDC/TANF, SSI, and GA, the more 
recent Urban Institute Study (Fix & Passel, 1999) found that:
 1. Use of public benefits among noncitizen households fell 
        more sharply than among citizen households between 1994 
        and 1997, 34 percent versus 14 percent;
 2. Those noncitizens imputed to be refugees experienced 
        declines (33 percent) that were at least as steep as 
        other noncitizens despite the fact that most refugees 
        continued to be eligible for benefits in 1997;
 3. Noncitizen households accounted for a disproportionately 
        large share of the overall decline in welfare caseloads 
        that occurred between 1994 and 1997;
 4. Welfare usage among elderly immigrants and naturalized 
        citizens did not appear to change between 1994 and 
        1997; and
 5. Neither naturalization nor rising incomes accounted for a 
        significant share of noncitizens' exits from public 
        benefit use.
    Similarly, CPS data show a decline in Medicaid use by 
citizen children of noncitizen parents. Specifically, between 
1995 and 1997, the number of citizen children on Medicaid fell 
6 percent. Research by the Urban Institute in Los Angeles 
showed that the number of citizen children approved for 
Medicaid through TANF enrollment fell by 48 percent between 
January 1996 and January 1998 (Zimmerman & Fix, 1998).
    CRS analysis of the March 1999 CPS (for 1998) indicated 
that public assistance usage was down generally from 1995 to 
1998. Although CPS data are self-reported and generally 
understate the actual number of program beneficiaries, it 
appears that the March 1999 Supplement's underreporting is 
quite pronounced when compared to the administrative program 
participation data analyzed above. Nonetheless, the downward 
trends in usage are consistent with those observed previously 
and are comparable to the general findings of the Urban 
Institute and others.
    One of the intriguing findings from the latest data is that 
the general declines in welfare use are not consistent across 
the programs or among the three citizenship groupings. The 
benefit use patterns for naturalized persons in the CPS 
samples, for example, offer exceptions to the general trends 
(table J-8). While benefit receipt decreased for noncitizens in 
all four selected programs, and for natives in all but SSI, the 
participation of naturalized citizens went up noticeably in SSI 
and Medicaid.
    The estimated percent of the cash welfare recipients (AFDC, 
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or GA) who were 
noncitizens held virtually constant between 1995 (11.9 percent) 
and 1998 (11.8 percent) even though the total caseload fell. A 
different perspective on the same data reveals that the 
percentage decrease in welfare use from 1995 to 1998 was 
virtually the same for natives as for noncitizens, 42 and 43 
percent respectively (table J-7). The estimated proportion of 
welfare recipients who were naturalized increased from 2.3 
percent in 1995 to 3.9 percent 1998, an increase of 70 percent.
     Estimates of SSI usage from the CPS suggest a different 
pattern, one in which noncitizen usage decreased from 9.9 
percent in 1995 to 7.8 percent in 1998, while recipiency among 
the naturalized increased as a percentage of SSI recipients 
from 3.9 percent to 6.5 percent over the 3-year period (table 
J-8). SSI recipiency dropped slightly among noncitizens, rose 
substantially among naturalized citizens, and held constant 
among natives.
     Generally Medicaid usage was down for everyone but 
naturalized citizens, but it is important to note that 
reporting of Medicaid use in the CPS is plagued with problems. 
Although Medicaid usage offers little overall change in the 
distribution of recipients reported in the CPS, there were 
modest changes in each of the citizenship categories. Estimated 
use by naturalized citizens rose while estimated use by 
noncitizens declined (table J-8). Among natives, there was a 
decline from 1995 to 1998.
     CPS estimates of households receiving food stamps indicate 
a decline from 1995 to 1998 across all three citizenship 
categories (table J-8). Noncitizen households that received 
food stamps went from 13.7 percent to 8.5 percent, experiencing 
the largest decline (38 percent), but native households 
followed closely with a 30 percent decline from 7.6 percent in 
1995 to 5.3 percent in 1998.

  TABLE J-8.--NATIVES, NATURALIZED AMERICANS, AND NONCITIZENS AS NUMBER OF RECIPIENTS, PERCENTAGE OF RECIPIENTS,
   AND PERCENTAGE OF CITIZENSHIP-STATUS GROUP RECEIVING BENEFITS FROM SELECTED WELFARE PROGRAMS, 1995 AND 1998
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Native                  Naturalized                 Noncitizen
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Program                                Percent                    Percent                    Percent
                                   1995     1998    change    1995     1998    change    1995     1998    change
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Number on welfare (in
 millions):
     Cash......................     4.25     2.51      -41    0.112    0.115      +03    0.583    0.350      -40
     SSI.......................     4.15     4.20      +01    0.188    0.316      +68    0.475    0.380      -20
     Medicaid..................    26.81    23.62      -12     .495    0.748      +51    0.242    0.170      -30
     Food stamps...............    25.12    18.46      -27    0.444    0.442    (\1\)    0.248    0.147      -41
 As percentage of all
 recipients:
    Cash.......................     85.8     84.4       -2      2.3      3.9      +70     11.9     11.8       -1
     SSI.......................     86.2     85.8    (\1\)      3.9      6.5      +67      9.9      7.8      -21
     Medicaid..................     90.1     90.6       +1      2.9      2.9        0      6.5      6.5        0
     Food stamps...............     89.6     90.6       +1      1.6      2.2      +38      8.9      7.2      -19
         Population (in            239.2    244.6       +2      7.9      9.9      +25     16.6     16.6        0
         millions).............
 Percentage of citizenship-
 status group receiving
 welfare:
    Cash.......................      2.4      1.4      -42      1.5      1.2      -20      4.0      2.3      -42
     SSI.......................      2.3      2.3        0      2.5      3.3      -32      3.2      2.5      -22
     Medicaid..................      7.2      6.3      -12        6      7.5      -25     12.8      9.2      -28
     Food stamps...............      7.6      5.3      -30      5.5      4.5      -18     13.7      8.5      -38
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Less than 1 percent.

Note.--Food stamp data are households; all other data are individuals. Cash welfare includes AFDC, TANF and GA.
  Many of the entries in the table are estimates based on small sample sizes which would produce large sampling
  errors.

Source: Congressional Research Service analysis of Current Population Survey March Supplement, 1996 and 1999.


     As in the 1995 CRS study, this CRS analysis focused on 
three categories of citizenship status: (1) native born 
citizens; (2) naturalized citizens; and (3) noncitizens. The 
use of these citizenship categories, in contrast to the Urban 
Institute's groupings of citizens, immigrants, and aliens from 
refugee-sending countries, may account for some of the 
differences in results. CRS' disaggregation of SSI from the 
other welfare benefits of AFDC, TANF and GA may also affect the 
results because use of SSI by the three citizenship status 
categories showed divergent patterns as compared with welfare 
use over time. In addition to differences between CRS and the 
Urban Institute in the data construction, some variation in 
findings could result from economic and social traits of the 
two time periods: 1994-97 versus 1995-98.

            VERIFICATION OF STATUS AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

    The increase in the number of programs and classes of 
aliens affected by the 1996 welfare reform law has necessitated 
an expansion of previous procedures for verifying alien 
eligibility for benefits. For example, the Social Services 
Block Grant (SSBG) Program is now barred to newly arrived 
``qualified aliens,'' whereas in the past it was not subject to 
any alienage restrictions. The concept of ``qualified aliens'' 
originated with the welfare law and includes noncitizens not 
covered by the INS database.
    The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) 
Program authorized by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 
1986 has been the primary means of verifying eligibility for 
many major Federal benefits. Under SAVE, applicants who stated 
that they were not citizens were required to have their status 
verified through a database of INS files. If this primary 
verification was unsuccessful, manual secondary verification by 
INS officials was conducted. Both Federal and State governments 
were critical of the time needed to complete secondary 
verifications. Because the SAVE data base was limited to 
aliens, it was also criticized as being vulnerable to 
circumvention by false citizenship claims.
    The 1996 welfare reform law and subsequent amendments in 
the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 (Public Law 105-33) 
included new verification and reporting requirements. These are 
supplemented by provisions in the Illegal Immigration Reform 
and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and by immigration 
enforcement legislation enacted as part of the Omnibus 
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 (Public Law 104-208).

                       Verification Requirements

 1. The welfare reform law requires the Attorney General to 
        adopt regulations to verify that individuals who apply 
        for Federal public benefits are qualified aliens and 
        eligible for assistance. As amended by the Illegal 
        Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, 
        the welfare reform law also requires the Attorney 
        General to establish fair and nondiscriminatory 
        procedures on proving citizenship when applying for a 
        Federal public benefit.
 2. States that administer a program which provides a 
        restricted federally assisted benefit must have a 
        verification program that complies with the above 
        regulations within 24 months of their adoption.
 3. The 1996 immigration law amended the welfare law to allow 
        nonprofit charitable organizations to provide Federal, 
        State, and local public benefits without having to 
        verify the immigration status of the recipients.
 4. The 1996 immigration law amended the Social Security and 
        Higher Education Acts to require the transmittal to INS 
        of copies of documents required to verify eligibility 
        for Social Security and Higher Education assistance.
 5. Public Law 105-33 authorized State and local governments to 
        verify the eligibility of individuals for State and 
        local public benefits.
 6. Public Law 105-33 requires the Attorney General, within 90 
        days of its enactment, to issue interim verification 
        guidance and to adopt regulations on procedures to be 
        used by States and local governments for determining 
        whether applicants are subject to the new federally 
        imposed bars on State and local benefits; i.e., for 
        verifying that alien applicants are qualified aliens, 
        nonimmigrants, or short-term parolees.

                         Reporting Requirements

 1. The welfare law requires the following entities to provide 
        INS at least four times annually and at INS' request 
        the name, address, and other information they have 
        regarding each individual whom they know is in the 
        United States unlawfully: (1) States receiving block 
        grants for TANF; (2) the Commissioner of Social 
        Security; (3) States operating under agreements for the 
        payment of SSI State supplements through the Federal 
        Government; (4) the Secretary of the U.S. Department of 
        Housing and Urban Development; and (5) public housing 
        agencies operating under contracts for assistance under 
        sections 6 or 8 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937.
 2. Separately, the welfare reform law states that no State or 
        local entity may be prohibited or in any way restricted 
        from sending to or receiving from the INS information 
        regarding an individual's immigration status.
 3. The immigration law requires the Attorney General to 
        notify, not later than 180 days after the end of each 
        fiscal year, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees 
        and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice 
        on: the number of public charge deportations; the 
        number of sponsors determined to be indigent; and the 
        number of reimbursement actions brought under 
        affidavits of support.

                               REFERENCES

Federal Register. (1996, August 30). Specification of community 
        programs necessary for protection of life or safety 
        under welfare reform legislation, 61, p. 45985.
Fix, M., & Passel, J.S. (1999). Trends in noncitizens' and 
        citizens' use of public benefits following welfare 
        reform, 1994-97. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
Fix, M., Passel, J.S., & Zimmerman, W. (1996, February 6). The 
        use of SSI and other welfare programs by immigrants. 
        Testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee 
        (Subcommittee on Immigration). Washington, DC: Urban 
        Institute.
O'Grady, M.J. (1995). Native and naturalized citizens and 
        noncitizens: An analysis of poverty status, welfare 
        benefits, and other factors (95-276 EPW). Washington, 
        DC: Congressional Research Service.
Ponce, E. (1996, February). Lawfully resident aliens who 
        receive SSI payments, December 1995. Washington, DC: 
        Social Security Administration.
Social Security Administration. (1999). Annual statistical 
        supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 1999. 
        Washington, DC: Author.
Teran, J.C., & Wasem, R.E. (1999). The foreign-born population: 
        A profile (CRS Report RL 30338). Washington, DC: 
        Congressional Research Service.
Uccello, C.E., McCallum, H.R., & Gallagher, L.J. (1996, 
        October). State general assistance programs, 1996. 
        Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1990). 
        Characteristics and financial circumstances of AFDC 
        recipients, fiscal year 1989. Washington, DC: Author.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1997). 
        Characteristics and financial circumstances of AFDC 
        recipients, fiscal year 1996. Washington, DC: Author.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). 
        Characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF 
        recipients, fiscal year 1998. Washington, DC: Author.
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. (1997, January). 
        Estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population 
        residing in the United States, October 1996. 
        (Backgrounder). Washington, DC: Author.
Vialet, J. (1997). Immigration: Reasons for growth, 1891-95 
        (CRS report 87-230). Washington, DC: Congressional 
        Research Service.
Wasem, R.E. (1995). Naturalization of immigrants: Policy, 
        trends, and issues (CRS Report 95-298). Washington, DC: 
        Congressional Research Service.
Zimmerman, W., & Fix, M. (1998, July). Declining immigrant 
        applications for Medi-Cal and welfare benefits in Los 
        Angeles County. Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 
        Immigration Studies Program.