The immigration bill introduced to the Senate a week and a half ago would, if passed, allow illegal immigrants to access state and local welfare benefits immediately, Breitbart News has learned. The financial impact of allowing potentially millions of immigrants onto state and local public assistance could overwhelm these programs’ budgets.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) uncovered this loophole in the bill and many others, and he will circulate a memo detailing the gaps in the bill on Tuesday. Breitbart News exclusively obtained a copy of the memo before its public release.
“The Gang of Eight made a promise that illegal immigrants will not be able to access public benefits,” Sessions said in a statement to Breitbart News. “We already know that, once granted green cards and ultimately citizenship, illegal immigrants will be able to access all public benefit programs at a great cost to taxpayers. We have, however, identified a number of loopholes that would allow illegal immigrants to draw public benefits even sooner than advertised.”
If the bill were signed into law, America’s 11 million illegal immigrants would be legalized within six months, when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano submits her border security plan to Congress. Illegal immigrants would immediately be eligible for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, making them legal to live and work in the country.
As Sessions’ staff points out in the memo, “state laws frequently extend benefits to anyone ‘lawfully present’ in the U.S.” The Sessions team points to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) brief that details how the only requirement many state and local governments have with regard to immigrant access to public benefits is that they are “lawfully present.” The term “lawfully present” is a legal definition.
According to page 91 of the bill, all illegal immigrants granted legalized RPI status would legally be considered “lawfully present.” That section reads as follows:
”(4) TREATMENT OF REGISTERED PROVISIONAL IMMIGRANTS.–A noncitizen granted registered provisional immigrant status under this section shall be considered lawfully present in the United States for all purposes while such noncitizen remains in such status, except that the noncitizen–
”(A) is not entitled to the premium assistance tax credit authorized under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
”(B) shall be subject to the rules applicable to individuals not lawfully present that are set forth in subsection (e) of such section; and
”(C) shall be subject to the rules applicable to individuals not lawfully present that are set forth in section 1402(e) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18071).”
In evaluating whether an illegal immigrant qualifies for RPI status, Sessions’ staff points out, the legislation “explicitly forbids” the Department of Homeland Security from using current law, which blocks entry to those who could become “public charges,” i.e. dependent on government welfare programs.
“Therefore, when those here illegally who are unable to support themselves are legalized, much of the immediate fiscal burden will fall on state and local governments,” Sessions’ staff wrote in the memo.
In addition to that loophole, Sessions and his staff found several more loopholes that allow current illegal immigrants access to public benefits even on the federal level before the promised wait time of 13 years from the bill’s passage.
In the memo, Sessions’ staff notes that current illegal immigrants who are “granted RPI status will immediately become eligible for federal benefits through citizen and permanent resident dependents, with no requirement that they support their household as a condition of receiving or maintaining legal status.” That means any current illegal immigrant who subsequently has dependent children, who are, by right of birth, U.S. citizens would qualify for federal welfare benefits through them.