Trump to Enforce Clinton-Era Law Requiring Sponsors to Pay Back Welfare Benefits of Immigrants

By Melanie Arter | May 24, 2019 | 1:28pm EDT
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Thursday directing agencies to enforce a previously unenforced Clinton-era law that requires sponsors of immigrants to pay the government back for the welfare benefits those immigrants use.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, were signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1996, but the provisions requiring government repayment were never enforced.

Sponsors will be required to sign an affidavit detailing what their financial responsibility will be to pay back the government for any government assistance program that the immigrant uses, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and cash assistance, as well as food stamps, Section 8 housing and rental assistance, Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits, and Medicaid for non-emergencies, Fox News reports.

Black conservative group Project 21 praised the decision, saying it is compliant with the immigration recommendations the group outlined in its Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America."



Project 21 member Melanie Collette said taxpayers should be frustrated about the fact that it took Trump”to issue a memorandum to compel the enforcement of federal laws already on the books.”

“The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act makes clear that it is reasonable to expect immigrants' sponsors to reimburse the American people for their expenses," she said. "And the establishment of a merit-based immigration system is not a matter of American selfishness - it's an acknowledgment of what makes America exceptional."

“This is a move that should be welcomed by those providing social services, because it will ensure American citizens who need assistance are not pushed aside. Noncitizens are draining resources meant for those who have already helped pay for them," Project 21 member Emery McClendon said in a statement.

"We must reserve these services for Americans first and foremost because they were created to give our own a hand-up in hard times. Yet the system currently turns away our own and places others ahead of them because of a failure to enforce the law," McClendon added.



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