President Donald Trump announced at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday that he will seek legislation preventing immigrants from receiving welfare for at least five years after entering the country, although they are already barred from most benefits under a 1996 welfare law.
“I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump said to thunderous applause.
He added that he will be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”
It’s unclear how such legislation would depart from policy already in place. The 1996 law, signed by President Bill Clinton, prohibits most immigrants from accessing federal programs such as Social Security and food stamps for their first five years in the US. Eligibility for local benefits programs, however, are usually determined by state governments.
Certain types of immigrants are exempt from the five-year block, including children, refugees, asylees, and US military personnel and their families.
Undocumented immigrants and people living in the US on non-immigrant visas, such as temporary foreign workers, are also barred from accessing most benefits.