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Austin Chronicle Who's In, Who's Out

Here are some of the cutbacks in benefits that immigrants may experience after September 22, 1997, according to the current federal welfare reform bill, which is destined to undergo yet more changes before becoming law. Food Stamps and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be denied to legal immigrants with the following exceptions: veterans and their families; refugees and asylees; those who can demonstrate that they have worked for 10 years in the U.S.

Medicaid and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) will be phased out in one, two, or three years, depending on individual immigrants' work experience and education levels. Legal immigrants entering the U.S. after September 22, 1997 will have to wait five years after their dates of entry to become eligible for TANF and Medicaid. Exemptions from the five-year wait are the same as above, with the addition of legal Cuban and Haitian immigrants.

Exceptions: The following categories of TANF assistance will still be available to legal immigrants without regard to their legal status or work history: emergency Medicaid; immunizations; disaster relief; school lunch and breakfast; higher education loans and grants; Head Start.

From information distributed by the National Immigration Law Center:

Legal Immigrant Recipients in Texas 24,088 ~60,000 168,000
Legal Immigrants projected to lose benefits   38,450 141,000
Amount of Lost Benefits   $130 million $122 million

Compiled from Bill Number TX75RSCR Texas Senate Committee Concurrent Resolution dated 4/14/97, the TDHS Challenge Statement, and the Center for Public Policy Priorities. According to the Texas Dept. of Human Services, final figures on the loss of benefits could be smaller due to naturalization and the 40 Quarters provision.

Legal Immigrant Food Stamp recipients in Travis County:

Their benefits: $1,844,547

From Texas Dept. of Human Services Data: Jan 31, 1997

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