How Dems build a constituency
Did you know that U.S. law forbids the admission of any immigrant who is likely to depend on public assistance? It's in Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, first passed in the 1950s and still the law today:
“Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.”
The plain language of the law hardly squares with reports that the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, has sought to promote the use of food stamps and other welfare programs among newly arrived immigrants. (Legal ones; the law forbids those benefits for illegal immigrants.) In 2004, the feds even began a partnership with the Mexican government to encourage Mexicans to sign up for government assistance as soon as they arrived in the U.S.
And now, the Obama administration forbids American consular officers from even considering whether a prospective immigrant might end up on dozens of public assistance programs when evaluating that immigrant's admissibility to the U.S. The policy came as a surprise to four top Republican senators when they learned about it last year.
“It has long been a sound principle of immigration law that those who seek citizenship in this country ought to be financially self-sufficient,” Sens. Jeff Sessions, Orrin Hatch, Charles Grassley and Pat Roberts wrote in an August 2012 letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In the early hours of March 23, during the so-called vote-a-rama on amendments to the budget, the Senate rejected, by a vote of 56-43, a measure that would have denied access to Medicaid and, in coming years, to subsidies under ObamaCare, for immigrants who came to the United States illegally but would be legalized through immigration reform.
The vote was almost entirely along party lines: Democrats voted against the amendment and Republicans voted for it.
Sessions, an opponent of the so-called Gang of Eight bipartisan outline for reform, touted the vote as a milestone. “The Senate Democrat majority voted to extend free and subsidized health care — specifically, Medicaid and ObamaCare — to illegal immigrants, who could be granted legal status under any comprehensive immigration bill,” he said. “The result of (this) vote places immigration reform in jeopardy.”
Every Democrat on the Gang of Eight — Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin, Robert Menendez and Michael Bennet — voted against the amendment while the Republican members of the group — Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake — voted for it.
Republican members, especially Rubio, have repeatedly insisted that newly legalized immigrants will not be eligible for federal benefits under their comprehensive immigration reform proposal, and there's no reason to think they don't mean what they say. But the Democrat majority's vote on the Sessions amendment, plus the Obama administration's extraordinarily lax policy on benefits, suggests Democrats have very different ideas on the subject.
That could indeed place immigration reform in jeopardy.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers still knockin’ on Canton’s door
- Heyward-Bey looks to make impact on special teams with Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Spaeth on baby watch
- Philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse Elsie Hillman dies at 89
- Pitcher Arrieta, Cubs shut down Pirates in victory at PNC Park
- Former Lower Burrell couple to stand trial for animal cruelty
- Catching on: Jeannette grad Pryor making progress with transition to receiver
- Murrysville oncologist says he had necessary permits to hunt, kill lion
- Man dead in McKees Rocks shooting; he survived gunshot 10 days ago
- Pirates notebook: Liriano shrugs off rain-ruined start
- Lone robber holds up Vanderbilt store