Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) aims to block any illegal immigrant from ever receiving any state, local, or federal welfare or public benefits with a series of amendments to the immigration reform bill currently under review in the U.S. Senate.
Cruz has filed five amendments to the bill. The one currently marked “Cruz 2” on the Senate Judiciary Committee website (the amendments have not yet received official numbers) has a stated purpose to “provide that aliens who have entered or remained present in the United States while not in lawful status shall not be eligible for means-tested benefits.”
The amendment would insert language into the bill that specifically says no illegal immigrant who broke the law to enter or stay in the country “shall be eligible for any Federal, State, or local government means-tested benefit, nor shall such alien be eligible for any benefit under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pub. L. 111-148), regardless of the alien’s legal status at the time of application for such benefit.”
In short, without citizenship, even if America’s millions of illegal immigrants received temporary legalization or eventually green cards and permanent legalization, they could never be eligible for any public benefits or welfare, including Obamacare.
Currently, illegal immigrants are precluded from access to most federal, state, or local public benefits, but this bill, as Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has detailed, would allow them to access many state and local benefits immediately upon legalization and would incrementally allow them to access federal benefits along their “path to citizenship.” In the bill, such a path to citizenship is 13 years long for most illegal immigrants but could be sooner for many like DREAM Act beneficiaries. When those illegal immigrants would receive citizenship, they would have full access to public benefits and welfare just like any other U.S. citizen.
Cruz’s next amendment, currently marked “Cruz 3” on the Senate Judiciary Committee website, would eliminate the bill’s path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. When the two amendments are combined, it would mean illegal immigrants would never receive public benefits even if they were permanently legalized and allowed to legally stay and work because they would never reach citizenship.