Ocasio-Cortez Unveils Anti-Poverty Proposal Giving Illegal Immigrants Access to Federal Public Benefits

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just released a multi-part legislative blueprint to build a more equitable and sustainable nation, what’s she’s calling “A Just Society.” CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) unveiled a “major project” designed to combat poverty on Wednesday dubbed, “A Just Society,” which – in part – gives illegal immigrants access to federal public benefits.

The proposal is six-fold, with each section aiming to combat poverty at a slightly different angle. The proposal includes giving illegal immigrants access to federal public benefits such as Medicaid, NPR reports.

“Immigrants pay taxes, and when we begin to unify our systems, I think that we will get more cohesive immigration policy, economic policy, political policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said, according to NPR.

“And I think it sends a message that if you contribute to our society, you should benefit from our society. Why should a billionaire who evades taxes collect Social Security, too?” she asked.

“I think that what we can do is we can tighten up our systems and increase accountability,” she continued, adding that her proposal sends the message that the U.S. will “not discriminate solely based on immigration status.”

Her “six-piece suite” includes:

  • Recognizing Poverty Act
  • Place to Prosper Act
  • Mercy in Re-Entry
  • Embrace Act
  • Uplift Our Workers Act
  • Ratify the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, & Cultural Rights

The Recognizing Poverty Act would, according to Ocasio-Cortez, “update the national poverty guidelines in order for us to acknowledge modern life.” That includes childcare and “new necessities” like Internet access.

The Place to Prosper Act gives access to a “counsel fund” for renters who are facing eviction and “imposes a national cap of 3% on annual rent increases and begins to pursue penalties” on what the freshman lawmaker calls “abusive and predatory landlords.”

Additionally, the Mercy in Re-Entry act extends the “social safety net” to former convicts who “duly paid their debt to society,” while the Embrace Act expands entitlement benefits to illegal immigrants. The Uplift Our Workers Act directs the federal government to “prefer doing business with worker-friendly contractors” based on a “worker-friendly score,” which Ocasio-Cortez likens to LEED certification.

She also urges Congress to ratify the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social, & Cultural Rights, which recognizes the right to “take part in cultural life” as well as the right to “enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.” It also recognizes the right to “an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”

“In a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person should be too poor to live,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That’s what a just society means to me”:

“I am both energized and humbled to introduce legislation today to build upon the most transformative programs of the last century,” Ocasio-Cortez said of her proposal in a statement.

“From the New Deal to the Great Society, we have shown time and again that our nation is capable of implementing big ideas and bold solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face,” she continued.

“We must once again recognize the breadth and consequences of poverty in this country and work together to ensure a path forward to economic freedom for everyone,” she added.

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