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



Immigration and Naturalization Policy and Trends
Legal Immigration
Illegal Aliens
Current Foreign-Born Residents
Noncitizens' Eligibility for Benefits Prior to 1996
"Public Charge" and Development of Eligibility Standards
State and Local Law Before 1996
1996-2002 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


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 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 
those 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 who 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 in the
U.S. 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. Most recently, the comprehensive legislation that reauthorized
Agriculture Department programs (P.L. 107-171) opened up food stamp
eligibility to legal permanent residents (LPRs) who meet a 5-year
residence test and all LPR children (regardless of date of entry or 
length of residence).	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.



	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, enter the United States only temporarily, about 1 million
aliens become LPRs each year.
	As Chart J-1 shows, the annual number of immigrants to the
United States rose gradually after World War II, and approaches
immigration levels of the early 20th Century. 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 numberC32.5 million 
in 2001Cis at the highest point in U.S. history (Wasem, 2002).

ADJUSTMENTS, 1900-2002




	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 during 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.


	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 $260 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 
in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when they file their
materials and have the option of taking a standardized civics test or
of having the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 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 serve 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 460,916 petitions in fiscal year 2000. In
FY2002, 700,649 LPRs filed naturalization petitions. Estimates of the
proportion of LPRs who elect to 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
during the mid-1990s, as well as the general declines since then, in 
naturalization petitions. Most notable is the 2.8 million aliens who
legalized through the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 became
eligible to naturalize in the mid-1990s, 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).  Finally, some
noncitizens may have sought to naturalize in recent years in order to
avoid the benefit eligibility restrictions in place since 1996, as
discussed below.


	Illegal aliens are those noncitizens who either enter the
United States surreptitiously; i.e., enter without inspection, or 
overstay the term of their nonimmigrant visas (tourist or student
visas).  Many of these aliens have some type of document B either bogus
or expired B and may have cases pending with U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services.  The former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization 
Service (INS) estimated that there were 7.0 million unauthorized 
aliens in the United States in 2000.  Demographers at the Census 
Bureau and the Urban Institute estimated the unauthorized population 
in 2000 at 8.7 and 8.5 million respectively, but these latter estimates
included "quasi-legal" aliens who had LPR petitions pending or had
gotten relief from deportation (Passel, 2001).
	According to the data analysis of the former INS, ten
States accounted for 80.0 percent of the illegal population, led by
California at 31.6 percent. The other States, in order, were Texas
(14.9 percent), New York (7.0 percent), Illinois (6.2 percent), Florida
(4.8 percent), Arizona (4.0 percent), Georgia (3.3 percent), New 
Jersey (3.2 percent), North Carolina (2.9 percent), and Colorado
(2.1 percent). Mexico dominated the sending countries at 68.7 percent, 
followed by El Salvador (2.7 percent), Guatemala (2.1 percent),
Colombia (2.0 percent), and Honduras (2.0 percent) (U.S. Immigration
and Naturalization Service).


	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, or illegal).
	The 2002 CPS found that about 11.5 percent of U.S. residents
were foreign born (7.3 percent noncitizens and 4.2 percent naturalized
citizens; Chart J-3). There were 32.5 million foreign-born persons 
living in the United States, of which 37 percent or 12.0 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.
       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 (60.3 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 (19.4 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).


ORIGIN, 2001

Region and State of Residence
		The western part of the United States is home to the
largest proportion (39.2 percent) of noncitizens (Table J-2). Over a
quarter (29.4 percent) of noncitizens live in the South, and just under
a quarter (21.4 percent) live in the Northeast. About 10 percent of 
noncitizens reside in the Midwest. By State of residence, over
one-fourth (28.5 percent) of all noncitizens live in the State of
California. The State with the next largest portion of noncitizens is
New York (11.0 percent). Texas is home to 10.5 percent, and Florida is
the home of 8.7 percent of all noncitizens. The only other States with
noteworthy shares of noncitizens are New Jersey (4.7 percent) and
Illinois (4.0 percent).



Poverty Levels
	Citizens-whether native born or naturalized-differ sharply from
noncitizens in terms of poverty levels.  As Chart J-5 illustrates, just
under half of noncitizens sampled in the CPS were below 200 percent of 
the poverty level in 2001 and 19.8 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 11.3 percent of natives and 9.9 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.


	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 


	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).

	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
	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 


                In 1971, the Supreme Court held in Graham v. Richardson
that 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 aliensCelementary and secondary education, for example-remained
beyond State control.


	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 he 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
comprehensive legislation that reauthorized Agriculture Department
programs (P.L. 107-171) opened up food stamp eligibility to legal
permanent residents (LPRs) who meet a 5-year residence test and all
LPR children (regardless of date of entry or length of residence), 
comparable to the State-exercised options for Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families (TANF) discussed below.  The basic policy laid out 
by the 1996 welfare law remains essentially unchanged for noncitizens
entering after its enactment.  


	As revised in 1997, 1998, and 2002, 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.


	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.



 "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 1 year under the
Attorney General's immigration parole power may receive the same

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 the period 1/1/94-10/1/96).

3 Lawful permanent residents who have 40 QCs or who in combination with
their parents or spouses have a total of 40 QCs may be eligible for SSI 
beginning 5 years after their entry to the United States.

4 "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.

5 "Nonimmigrants" - admitted temporarily for a limited purpose.
Includes e.g., students, visitors, and temporary workers.


6 Also known as illegal aliens.  Includes aliens here in violation of
immigration law for whom no legal relief has been extended.

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

Source: Congressional Research Service.


	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.  P.L. 107-171 lifted the food stamp
bar for all LPR children, regardless of date of entry (it also ends
requirements to deem sponsors= income and resources to these children)
; LPRs receiving government disability payments, so long as they pass
any noncitizen eligibility test established by the disability program
(e.g., SSI recipients would have to meet SSI noncitizen requirements in
order to get food stamps); and all individuals who have resided in the
U.S. for 5 or more years as "qualified aliens" -i.e., LPRs,
refugees/asylees, and other non-temporary legal residents (such as 
Cuban/Haitian entrants).


	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 welfare 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.  
Many States, including those with large noncitizen populations such
as California, offer a full array of public assistance to legal
immigrants not eligible for federally financed benefits.  As of
December 2002, 24 States report using their State Amaintenance of
[email protected] money to provide public assistance to newly arriving LPRs
who are barred from Federal TANF for the first 5 years.

	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
	State options also are available under food stamp law, and as
of December 2002, 13 States report that they provide food assistance to
noncitizens who are not covered by the Federal food stamps program. 
The number of States reporting that they provide their own food
assistance program for noncitizens is down from 16 States as of
December 2000.
	Finally, States have the option to grant or deny any child
nutrition benefits (e.g., Summer Feeding Programs, meals in day care
programs, and WIC, but not school meals), commodity supplemental and
emergency food benefits, and commodity benefits for Indians on
reservations based on alien status.


	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
             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 non-cash community-level services exempt from the various
prohibitions (Federal Register, 1996). Among other services, it
includes senior nutrition programs, such as Meals on Wheels.


	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 prior law and practice, and both have their roots in the
public charge provision, 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
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 pre-1996 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 sponsored 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 as the
sponsor promised as a condition of the immigrant's entry in the U.S.
	The sponsor-to-alien deeming rules also have been expanded in
terms of duration and the number of programs and immigrants
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-40);
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.


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.



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

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.

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 generally are 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.


		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.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
		The percentage of the SSI caseload represented by
noncitizens has held steady in recent years, after rising sharply in
the 1980s and early 1990s (Table J-5). 
It stood at 10.4 percent or 703,515 participants in 2002 after peaking
at 12.1 percent or 785,410 participants in 1995. In 2002, noncitizens
accounted for about 29.1 percent of all aged SSI recipients, down from
a high of 32.0 percent in 1995. Noncitizens accounted for 6.1 percent
of disabled (or blind) recipients in 2002.  As Table J-5 shows, even
after the implementation of reforms in the mid-1990s, more noncitizens
currently receive SSI benefits than in any year prior to 1994.

	The largest concentration of noncitizens who received SSI
benefits lived in California (260,520) in 2001. New York was second
with 110,340 noncitizen SSI recipients. Florida and Texas followed with
65,400 and 54,800 noncitizen recipients respectively.
	Although noncitizens from Latin America comprised an estimated  
60.3 percent of noncitizens in the United States, they accounted for
only  44.2 percent of the SSI noncitizen caseload in 2001. Noncitizens
from Asia were an estimated 19.4 percent of noncitizen residents, but
made up 33.4 percent of noncitizens who receive SSI. Noncitizens from
the former Soviet Union were an estimated 2.7 percent of noncitizens in
the United States, yet they were 10.9 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 2001.





Family Cash Assistance
	The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data on
characteristics of TANF/AFDC recipients indicate that, as a percentage
of total adult TANF/AFDC recipients, noncitizens legally in the United
States who receive TANF/AFDC increased from 7.0 percent in fiscal year
1989 to 12.3 percent in fiscal year 1996. The percentage of noncitizens
then dropped to 11.0 percent in 1998 and ultimately fell to 8.0 percent
in 2001. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990, 
1997, 1999, 2003). 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 by noncitizens. Fully 16.9 percent of its 278,069
TANF recipients were noncitizens in 2001 (Table J-7). Calculated in
terms of percentage of all adult noncitizens receiving TANF, 
Californians comprised 41.8 percent of adult noncitizens in the United
States on TANF in 2001. New York followed California with 12.3 percent 
of its 189,299 recipients who were adult noncitizens or 20.7 percent of
noncitizens in the United States on TANF. Texas and Minnesota were a
distant third and fourth with 7.4 percent and 5.2 percent respectively 
of adult noncitizens in the United States on TANF, with 8.9 percent and
16.8 percent of their States= caseload respectively who were

Food Stamps
	The 10-year pattern for noncitizens receiving food stamps
resembles that of SSI and AFDC/TANF. Specifically, food stamp
participation by noncitizens rose 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. It stood at 3.7 percent in 2001. The
peak occurred in 1996 when 1,847,000 noncitizens comprised 7.1 percent
of the 25,926,000 food stamp recipients (Table J-8).



OCTOBER 2000 - SEPTEMBER 2001-continued 


	California is the State with the largest number of noncitizens
receiving food stamps, 138,000 in 2001. Its share of all noncitizens
nationwide receiving food stamps was 21.6 percent. New York, Florida,
and Texas followed with 16.7, 12.3, and 10.6 percent respectively of
all noncitizens receiving food stamps in 2001.


	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 at that time, 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, a later 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 
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) and the March
2002 CPS (for 2001) indicated that public assistance usage has declined
generally from 1995 to 2001. Although CPS data are self-reported and
generally understate the actual number of program beneficiaries, it
appears that the March 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-9). 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,
TANF, or GA) who were noncitizens held virtually constant between 1995
(11.8 percent) and 1998 (11.8 percent), and then rose in 2001
(12.4 percent) (Table J-9). The estimated proportion of welfare
recipients who were naturalized increased from 2.3 percent in 1995
to 3.9 percent 1998, then fell slightly to 3.7 percent in 2001. The
percentage of cash welfare recipients who were native born dropped from
86.0 percent in 1995 to 83.8 percent in 2001. 
	Estimates of SSI usage from the CPS suggest a different pattern
one in which noncitizen usage decreased by 44 percent from 1995 to 2001,
but usage by naturalized citizens rose by 117 perent over the same 
period.  Recipiency among the naturalized increased as a percentage of
SSI recipients from 3.9 percent to  8.1 percent over the 6-year period
while noncitizens dropped from 9.9 percent to 5.3 percent (Table J-9). 
SSI recipiency held virtually 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 noteworthy changes in each of the citizenship categories.
Estimated use by naturalized citizens rose from 1.7 percent in 1995 to
3.5 percent in 2001, while estimated use by noncitizens declined from 
8.0 percent in 1995 to 6.3 percent in 2001 (Table J-9). Among natives,
it remained at much the same levels over the 6-year period.
           CPS estimates of households receiving food stamps indicated
a decline for native born and noncitizens, but rose for naturalized
citizens from 1995 to 2001(Table J-9). Estimated use by naturalized
citizens rose from 1.6 percent in 1995 to 3.1 percent in 2001, while
estimated use by noncitizens declined from  8.9 percent in 1995 to 6.7
percent in 2001 (Table J-9). The percentage of noncitizen households
that received food stamps went from 14.9 percent to 5.8 percent, 
experiencing the largest decline (61 percent), but native households
followed closely with a 39 percent decline from 10.5 percent in 1995 to
6.4 percent in 2001.
	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)

1998, 2001



	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 now is
barred to newly arrived "qualified aliens," whereas in the past it was
not subject to any alienage restrictions. 
	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 U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USBCIS) files.
If this primary verification was unsuccessful, manual secondary
verification by USBCIS officials was conducted. Both Federal and State 
governments were critical of the time needed to complete secondary
verifications. Because the SAVE database was limited to aliens, it also
was 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).


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 non
profit charitable organizations to provide Federal, State, and local
public benefits without having to verify the immigration status of the
4.	The 1996 immigration law amended the Social Security and Higher 
Education Acts to require the transmittal to USBCIS 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
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


1.	The welfare law requires the following entities to provide
USBCIS at least four times annually and at USBCIS' 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 USBCIS 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.


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programs necessary for protection of life or safety under welfare
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use of public benefits following welfare reform, 1994-97. Washington,
DC: Urban Institute.
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SSI and other welfare programs by immigrants. Testimony before the U.S.
Senate Judiciary Committee (Subcommittee on Immigration). Washington,
DC: Urban Institute.
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An analysis of poverty status, welfare benefits, and other factors
(95-276 EPW). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

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payments, December 1995. Washington, DC: Social Security Administration.
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