Trump Says Immigrants Should Wait Five Years to Get Welfare

Updated on
  • Says immigrants ‘must be able to support themselves’
  • 1996 welfare law banned most immigrants from welfare programs

Without Immigrants, These Companies Wouldn't Exist

President Donald Trump said he’ll propose legislation that would ban U.S. immigrants from receiving any welfare benefits for five years.

“I believe 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," Trump said at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday. “And we’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”

Trump campaigned on promises of a crackdown on undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and signed an executive order shortly after taking office in January that has led to increases in deportations across the country, according to immigrant advocates. However, he has also targeted refugees and other legal immigrants, proposing to reduce the number who enter the country and establish new standards that would weed out people without high skills or much education.

“We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work,” Trump said. “We also want to preserve our safety net for struggling Americans who truly need help. We want to help them. But others don’t treat us fairly.”

He did not detail his proposal to ban immigrants from receiving immigration benefits, which he has not previously disclosed. The legislation would presumably go further than the 1996 welfare overhaul passed under former President Bill Clinton, which banned many kinds of legal immigrants from receiving most federal welfare benefits for five years or longer after entry into the U.S., including health programs, cash assistance and subsidies for home energy costs.

That law exempted certain immigrants, including refugees, people from Cuba and Haiti, and green-card holders, according to the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy group.

As Trump made the proposal in Iowa, the White House announced a move to slow the flow of legal travel to the U.S.

In an executive order announced late Wednesday, Trump lifted an Obama-era requirement that the U.S. make sure at least 80 percent of those who apply for non-immigrant visas for entry to the U.S. are interviewed within 3 weeks of their application. The Obama rule made exceptions in the case of security considerations.

Multiple White House officials did not respond to request for comment on why the administration made the change. Trump has tried to temporarily ban travel from six predominantly Muslim nations in executive orders that have been blocked by courts. The Supreme Court is expected to decide within days whether the travel ban can take effect while it considers the Trump administration’s appeals of lower court rulings.

— With assistance by Justin Sink

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.