Suddenly, and inexplicably, a long dormant issue, uncommented upon except by this blog, in immigration is back in the news. Aliens on welfare. The Daily Caller is suddenly all over the story of how immigrants, this time legal ones, are all over the government cheese, e.g. very generous welfare benefits for the lazy and indolant.
The Daily Caller August 8, 2012 by Caroline MayThe federal government allows immigrants to enjoy America’s vast welfare safety net, from food stamps to housing benefits and Medicaid, and remain immune from repercussions to their immigration status. And on Monday, ranking Republican members of the Senate Finance, Agriculture, Budget, and Judiciary Committees wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding to know why.Immigration regulations prohibit individuals “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” from legal admittance into the United States. But non-citizens can avail themselves of dozens of welfare programs without the federal government considering them a dependency risk.In government-speak, an individual likely to become reliant on the government for survival is termed a “public charge.” While there is a menu of over 80 federal welfare programs in America, that status is triggered by reliance on two federal programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act explains that immigrants are “inadmissible” to the United States if the U.S. Attorney General or any consular officer who interacts with them determines that he or she “is likely at any time to become a public charge.”Despite immigration regulations that specifically state individuals may not be legally admitted if that determination is made, the real-world application of those regulations reveals a different story.Acceptance of food stamps benefits, housing benefits, energy assistance, child care services, Medicaid and a wealth of other programs are all inadmissible in the determination of a non-citizen’s “public charge” risk, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Well, thank you very much Caroline. Welcome to the party. But there should be no surprise on this issue. Public charge has been a dead letter law since the senior Bush Administration and any pretense of enforcement was ended under Jorge Bush. The major work was however done under Bill Clinton.
From the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services website on public charge, the no enforcement notice to aliens:
Benefits Subject to Public Charge ConsiderationThe agency guidance specifies that cash assistance for income maintenance includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and State or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance, often called “General Assistance” programs. Acceptance of these forms of public cash assistance could make a non-citizen inadmissible as a public charge, if all other criteria are met.
And the non-enforcement statement:
However, the mere receipt of these benefits does not automatically make an individual inadmissible, ineligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or deportable on public charge grounds. See “Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” 64 FR 28689 (May 26, 1999). Each determination is made on a case-by-case basis in the context of the totality of the circumstances.
And by "case-by-case" they mean never.
Members of Congress are seeking any information on how many aliens have either been deported, refused entry or denied an immigrant or non-immigrant visa of late.
In an interview with TheDC, an outraged Sen. Sessions did not mince words about the resident immigrants who have become public charges.“We would like to know how many [there are], how big the problem is, how much it is costing the United States Treasury — because this is clearly a burden on the Treasury,” Sessions said.
And they will find that none have.
As a matter of fact, there was an attempt to start using the public charge section of law against, not immigrants, but legal non-immigrant aliens in the mid-90s in California.
Under the Pete Wilson administration, the State of California, Department of Social Services (DSS), Fraud Bureau, and the Department of Healthcare Services (DHS), Audits and Investigations, began a major program working with the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at Ports-of-Entry, both air and land ports, where non-immigrant aliens, e.g. those aliens with a non-immigrant visa or from a Visa Waiver Program country, were screened for welfare use, then if they refused to reimburse the State of California, were refused entry. Remember, non-immigrants are temporary visitors to the United States for business, pleasure, or personal reasons. However the benefits side of the DSS, DHS, and the various county level agencies were handing out welfare benefits to any alien regardless of status, legal, temporary, immigrant, non-immigrant, illegal, it did not matter.
However, Wilson wanted that money back, and for a few years the program was on fire, recouping millions of fraudulent welfare and healthcare benefits. Why, since all the alien had to do was claim to be a California resident, and the benefits were granted. And because they were seeking admission as non-immigrants, the aliens were faced with a conundrum, admit they were not residents and face a criminal investigation by the DSS Fraud Bureau or DHS Audits and Investigations, or maintain the claim they were residents and face action from the late unlamented INS. Of note even then, the public charge threat from the legacy INS was mostly bluff, as at the time INS Immigration Inspectors were instructed to not use the public charge exclusion charge (212(a)(4)), but use a fraud charge (212 (a)(6)(C) or immigrant without an immigrant visa exclusion charge (212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I).
Of note, one of the most flagrant abusers of Medical and its benefits by non-immigrant aliens, besides the usual Mexicans who came over daily for free healthcare, were Philippinos, especially stewardesses for Philippine Airlines. Their usual method was to have a child born here, winning the anchor-baby lottery and having it paid for the American taxpayer. It was quite easy for them, as usually Philippine Airlines flight crews obtained not only a crew member visa (C-1/D) but a tourist visa as well (B-2).
And the program worked quite well, but the Treason Bar soon heard of the program and it was quickly and quitely ended under Gray Davis.
So, while this attention is nice, where was the Daily Caller when Jorge Bush was not enforcing the public charge aspect of immigration law? Is this the start of a temporary dog-whistling campaign for Mittens?