Anti-American attack on immigrants Welfare bill: Its multi-billion dollar cuts in aid to aliens are veto bait.

July 30, 1996

WELFARE REFORM is the cat and immigration reform is the mouse. Provisions in welfare bills passed by the Senate and the House call for cuts in assistance for legal aliens that are so vast they overwhelm the more modest restrictions, especially on illegal aliens, that are included in a laboriously crafted immigration measure possibly nearing passage.

Such are the vagaries of an election-year Congress now caught up in anti-terrorism legislation it thought it had been done with -- before Atlanta. As Congress chafes to recess for the national conventions, this is the moment when the public should be especially wary.

President Clinton is eager to honor his 1992 campaign pledge "to end welfare as we know it." But Republicans are just as eager to make him swallow provisions that make him gag -- not least proposals that would force non-citizens to absorb half of a projected $56 billion to $61 billion savings in welfare costs over a six-year period. Compare those figures to the $5.6 billion in savings charted in the separate immigration bill that is aimed chiefly at illegals.

This hungry cat of a welfare bill would deny immigrants cash assistance, Medicaid, food stamps and Supplemental Security Income for the aged and disabled. State governments with large immigrant populations fear a very large social problem is about to be dumped on them by federal authorities.

While it is true that immigrants are drawing somewhat more government support than are native-born Americans, it is also true that they pay their taxes in roughly equal proportion to full-fledged citizens. Are we to deny these people services their tax money supports? They lack these support system once provided by urban political machines.

Mr. Clinton has cited the Draconian cutback in aid to immigrants as one of the two issues that might cause him to issue a politically painful veto. Hence, he is attempting to get House and Senate conferees to devise a measure less restrictive than either passed -- a difficult task in any circumstance.

We hope the president succeeds not only because the present welfare system of cycled dependency needs to be scrapped but because anti-immigrant provisions of the pending welfare reform bill are downright anti-American.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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