Trump Wants to Pursue New Immigration Law that Already Exists

On Wednesday night, Trump read from his teleprompter at his campaign rally in Iowa.1 He declared, “The time has come for new immigration rules which say that 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.”2

This law, however, was already created 20 years ago.3 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) was passed during former President Bill Clinton’s administration.4 PRWORA said that an immigrant is “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit” for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country.5 There are exceptions to what qualifies as a federal-means tested public benefit, such as certain types of medical assistance, in-kind emergency disaster relief, and public health assistance for some vaccines.6

Although it is possible that Trump intended to change the exceptions that already exist, this seems unlikely.7 Despite the fact that Trump seemed uninformed of current policy, Iowans stood to cheer the proposal.8 Many Iowans may also be unaware of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.9


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