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Welfare reform and "ineligibles": issue of constitutionality and recent court rulings

Welfare reform and "ineligibles": issue of constitutionality and recent court rulings

Social Work 46(4): 315-323

In 1996 welfare legislation made lawful immigrants, with a few exemptions, categorically ineligible for most forms of public assistance. This legislation has led affected immigrants and their advocacy groups to file lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This article reviews recent court rulings that have upheld the act and examines court decisions in light of two constitutional principles (the Equal Protection and Supremacy clauses), which traditionally have been applied to the issue of aliens' eligibility for welfare benefits. The author finds inconsistent outcomes between federal and state legislation in the judicial review process. To resolve this inconsistency, the author suggests several policy changes in the distribution of welfare benefits concerning eligibility of lawful immigrants. The implications for social work practice are discussed.

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Accession: 047953430

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 11682973

DOI: 10.1093/sw/46.4.315

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