Should new immigrant be able to receive welfare?

I didn’t even realize that this is the current law in the U.S.

From the CNN web site:
"Republicans want to continue to bar legal immigrants from welfare, food stamps, disability and Medicaid programs for their first five years in the country. Democrats want to lift the ban on welfare payments and modify it for other programs. "

Should this ban be lifted? Is this the law in other countries too?

What about an immigrant, let’s say from India, who gets a high tech job here in the US. He leaves his job and family from India, comes here, puts down ties in the US, maybe buys a house. Puts his kids in school here. And after 4 years he gets laid off. Should he get welfare, food stamps, etc?

If he gets laid off, he should be eligible for unemployment, which is not at all the same as welfare. I work in an employment-based immigration law firm, and this is so rarely a problem with the educated, intelligent, hardworking people who come on employment-based visas (most of which require at least a bachelor’s degree) that I can’t believe how much time we’re wasting on it, politically speaking. I’ve never heard of anyone who was out of work for so long that their unemployment ran out. And if the guy has a house and other assets, he wouldn’t be eligible for welfare until those ran out, anyway. The kind of jobs these people have usually come with disability insurance, etc.

As for people who come on family-based visas: they are required to have sponsors, who sign a legally binding contract to be responsible for supporting the new immigrants until they have worked enough quarters to be eligible for Social Security (usually 40 quarters). Refugees and asylees have their own set of funding sources, and are exempt from the requirement to have sponsors.

So, who exactly is this law worried about? If someone comes into the US, they probably have a pretty good job (it’s hard to get a work visa without an ‘in-demand’ job) Or they could come on a family visa, and then they’d be sponsered.

I guess they family member who sponsered them could die and leave them in the lurch, but this seems not terribly common.

Does this law apply to people?

Sponsors do die, and sponsors do divorce the spouses they sponsored or have fights with other family members they have sponsored. Sponsors also die or become disabled. Believe it or not, if you sponsor your spouse and later get divorced, you are still liable for supporting your spouse until he/she is eligible for Social Security benefits, becomes a U.S. citizen, departs the U.S. permanently, or dies.

Also, if you’re sponsoring someone, you have to show that your income and assets put you over 125% of the poverty line for your household size (100% if you’re on active duty in the Armed Forces), including the sponsred immigrant(s). This is so people don’t get in over their heads and sponsor their elderly parents and 12 unemployed siblings on a minimum-wage job.

Here is an excerpt from a standard memo my office sends clients on the Affidavit of Support form. Maybe this will make things clearer:

A Form I-864 is a legally enforceable document that is part of the evidence submitted in certain applications for admission as a U.S. permanent resident. When admitted into the United States as an immigrant, a foreign national must prove to the Immigration or Consular Officer that he or she is not likely to become a “public charge”, i.e., dependent on the government for financial assistance. Form I-864 is a promise by the sponsor that the sponsor will provide financial support and assistance to the foreign national if needed. Form I-864 is now required for all individuals who are entering the U.S. pursuant to a family-sponsored visa, and for individuals who are entering the U.S. pursuant to an employment-sponsored visa, where the employer is a relative, or a relative owns 5% or more of the petitioning company.

The sponsor of the individual’s immigrant visa (i.e., the petitioner) MUST complete the Form I-864 on behalf of the immigrant. In addition, another person may be a “joint sponsor” when the petitioner cannot meet the income requirements of a sponsor. If you would like a list of the income levels that the sponsor(s) must meet in order to meet the federal guidelines please let me know.

II. Requirements of the Sponsor

A sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident, at least 18 years old, living in the U.S. or a U.S. territory or possession.

III. The Enforceability of Form I-864

Form I-864 is legally enforceable by the sponsored immigrant, the federal government, state government, or any other entity that provides a “means-tested benefit” to the sponsored immigrant. A means-tested benefit is a benefit provided at no charge or at a discounted charge to beneficiaries who have been determined to meet certain low-income levels.

The obligation to support the sponsored foreign national ends when the sponsored alien (a) naturalizes, (b) is credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work, © leaves the U.S. permanently, or (d) dies. Divorce does NOT nullify the obligations of the Form I-864. Thus, obligations of a sponsor for supporting the sponsored immigrant under Form I-864 can continue for decades even though the marriage upon which the immigrant visa petition was based has ended.

IV. Income Requirements and Proof

The sponsor must demonstrate financial ability to provide support to maintain his or her household, dependents, the sponsored alien, and any previously sponsored aliens, at 125% or more of the Federal poverty guideline for the period during which the affidavit is enforceable. If the sponsor cannot meet this requirement through income, the sponsor may submit proof of sufficient assets. The income of other members of the sponsor’s household may be included to meet the 125% requirement only if the other household member (1) has been living with the sponsor for six months, and (2) signs a Form I-864A, making the household member jointly and severally liable for payment of all obligations owed under Form I-864.

If the sponsor’s household income is insufficient to meet the financial requirements, the sponsored alien’s income may be included to meet the 125%, or the alien may obtain a co-sponsor or co-sponsors. Each co-sponsor must complete Form I-864 and agree to be jointly and severally liable.

The sponsor must submit copies of his or her tax returns for the immediately preceding three years. The sponsor must sign the original and each copy of Form I-864 before a notary public.

The sponsor may be interviewed by an Immigration or Consular Officer about the statements in Form I-864, although this is generally not required. False statements in Form I-864 can lead to criminal penalties for false statements, perjury, or document fraud with terms of imprisonment for up to 10 years, plus fines. Also, if fraud is found, the intending immigrant’s application will be denied.

V. Notification of Change of Address of the Sponsor

The sponsor must notify the INS within 30 days of the change of address of the sponsor throughout the period of obligation under Form I-864. Failure to notify the INS can result in fines of $250 to $2,000, or if the sponsor knows the sponsored alien has received any means-tested benefit, $2,000 to $5,000. Form I-865 is used to provide notification of the change of address.

It’s tricky; I live in the UK and sometimes I can’t work out whether the alleged problem is that ‘they are all coming over here and taking our jobs’ or that ‘they are all coming over here and sponging on our welfare’ (it can’t be both, can it?)

It is my opinion that this very broad issue is often considered too narrowly- there are a whole raft of interlinked aspects to examine, for example; immigrants eat, drink, wear clothes, drive cars, read books, entertain themselves at the cinema and so on; these things support a capitalist economy.