A memo issued by President Donald Trump on Thursday makes sponsors of immigrants who end up receiving welfare benefits liable for the cost of those benefits
The directive invokes rarely enforced 1996 legislation that holds sponsors legally liable for such costs, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The immigration laws currently require that, when an alien receives certain forms of means-tested public benefits, the government or non-government entity providing the public benefit must request reimbursement from the alien’s financial sponsor,” the memo read.
“These laws also require that, when an alien applies for certain means-tested public benefits, the financial resources of the alien’s sponsor must be counted as part of the alien’s financial resources in determining both eligibility for the benefits and the amount of benefits that may be awarded. Financial sponsors who pledge to financially support the sponsored alien in the event the alien applies for or receives public benefits will be expected to fulfill their commitment under law.”
“Since December 19, 1997, the Congress has required an alien’s sponsor to sign an affidavit of support under section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) pledging financial support for the sponsored alien in the event the sponsored alien applies for or receives means-tested public benefits,” it also noted.
“Currently, agencies are not adequately enforcing these requirements,” the memo said. “Ensuring compliance with the rule of law requires renewed efforts to enforce these requirements and the issuance of appropriate guidance so agency practices and enforcement can be aligned with Federal law.”
The move would require states to forward the names of immigrants receiving welfare benefits, after which the Treasury Department would bill the sponsor for the benefits.
If the sponsor fails to pay up, the money will be withheld from his or her tax return.
RealClearPolitics reported that “[t]he move is meant to promote self-sufficiency for noncitizens and preserve the social safety net for people living legally in the country,” according to one senior administration aide.
“This is a historic, transformative action to restore the foundational principle of U.S. immigration law: that those seeking to join our society must support themselves financially,” the aide said.
“Furthermore, those who, for whatever reason, cannot support themselves financially, must turn to their sponsor — not the federal government.”
And that’s the point of a sponsor, isn’t it?
Between the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act — “An administration official noted with a bit of glee that the latter became law with the support of then-Sen. Joe Biden,” RealClearPolitics reported — administration officials claim the ability to enforce this policy has been around since the 1990s.
It’s just that nobody seemed particularly interested in doing so.
Now Trump can — and he doesn’t need Congress’ approval.
“It always seemed like a no-brainer. Biden voted for it. This is a Clinton-era law,” the aide told RealClearPolitics.
“This is about enforcing what is already on the books. We are saying if you are willing to sponsor someone, you have to be responsible. You can’t just bring in everybody. You have to be judicious.”
We have a generous safety net in this country — many conservatives would argue too generous — and it’s already under a lot of strain. That’s why we have laws like the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.
It’s time we started enforcing them.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.