IMMIGRATION: Clinton Severs Link Between Welfare and Deportation
Following Washington's recent pro-immigrant lead, Vice President Al Gore will clarify today the meaning of "public charge" and "quell a persistent fear ... that applying for public benefits can put applicants -- even legal immigrants -- on the road to deportation," the Los Angeles Times reports. "This new regulation will improve the health of our families by addressing widespread confusion that prevents legal immigrants from signing up for health insurance, school lunch, child care and other essential programs," said Gore. The clarifications, effective immediately, will grant federal agencies "specific direction" in determining whether immigrants seeking citizenship status are "public charges" -- a term referring to a century-old link between dependence on public resources and inadmissability or deportation. Many public health advocates have expressed fear that widespread misunderstanding about what constitutes a public charge has led to the underutilization of Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. However, House immigration subcommittee chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) opposes the rules, alleging they "will increase the number of immigrants on welfare who will be able to bring in more immigrants to go on welfare and are an insult to all Americans -- native-born and immigrant" (McDonnell, 5/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.