Trump vows to overhaul welfare policy for immigrants

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will soon introduce legislation that would bar new immigrants from having access to welfare programs for five years, but there are still many questions about what impact that would actually have.

Those questions remain because the president did not provide many details on the legislation. He made the announcement Wednesday night during a speech at an Iowa community college.

"That's why I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years," Trump said.

The statute is apparently included in a draft immigration executive order proposal that the president said would happen "very shortly." But that's all that is known, and the White House is not giving much information.

Some research found that former President Bill Clinton signed a major welfare bill in 1996 that included a similar rule about immigrants. "The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996" makes immigrants entering the United States ineligible for federal welfare funds for five years after arriving in the country.

But that bill does grant states permission to allocate funds to address welfare needs of immigrants. States such as New York, California and others use that exemption to help new immigrants. In 1996, Clinton admitted that it wasn't the end of tackling welfare problems.

The question now is whether Trump's proposal will take away those exemptions from 1996.

Immigration lawyer Lymari Casa, of Casa Law Firm, told News 12 the firm is certainly awaiting the details of Trump's proposal.

"Every time there is some new change or something is said, the immigrant community gets very concerned and scared," Casa says.

Casa adds that she encourages people to be informed about their rights.

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