Sessions Attacks Immigration Reform Bill's Welfare Provisions

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April 30, 2013

By Andy Marshall

Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama: U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) claimed today that immigrants who entered the United States illegally but take advantage of the pathway to citizenship in the immigration reform proposal of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" would be eligible for welfare and other benefits much earlier than previously thought. Sessions, an outspoken of the plan, issued a press release asserting that those opting for the "pathway to citizenship" might be immediately eligible for state and local benefits.[1][2] His press release echoed several points he made in an April 26 speech criticizing the reform proposal.[3]

The proposed reform package includes a provision which would not give illegal immigrants eligibility for taxpayer-funded benefits for 13 years. However, Sessions claimed that several "loopholes" would allow many immigrants legalized under the plan to access certain benefits much earlier. In addition to the state and local benefits, he alleged that 2 to 3 million who qualify for the DREAM Act's provisions would be eligible for citizenship and federal benefits in 5 years and that agricultural workers could become citizens in 10 years.[2] Sessions previously issued press releases specifically criticizing the American DREAM Act loopholes and the inadequacy of the "trigger" benchmarks which would need to be met for the immigrant legalization process to go forward.[4]

The "Gang of Eight" bill is the first major push for comprehensive immigration reform since President George W. Bush's efforts stalled. This bipartisan group of senators includes Republicans Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Marco Rubio and Democrats Michael Bennett, Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, and Charles Schumer.

In other Alabama-related immigration news, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case regarding Alabama's strict 2011 law against aiding or inducing anyone to immigrate illegally. This means that an appeals court ruling which blocked the law on the basis that Alabama's law interfered with federal laws.[5]

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