Welfare Reform and the Devolution of Immigrant Policy

Brief

Welfare Reform and the Devolution of Immigrant Policy

Abstract

In this brief, the authors argue that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) embodies a fundamental shift in the locus of immigrant policy from the federal government to states and localities. The new policy fragments what had been uniform national rules set by Congress and the courts regarding noncitizens eligibility for public benefits. Because states are granted far greater power to deny public benefits to noncitizens, welfare reform deepens the differences between how citizens and noncitizens are treated and redefines noncitizens membership in society.

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