Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Unauthorized Aliens’ Access to Federal Benefits: Policy and Issues

By Ruth Ellen Wasem, Specialist in Immigration Policy, Congressional Research Service
September 17, 2012

Federal law bars aliens residing without authorization in the United States from most federal benefits; however, there is a widely held perception that many unauthorized aliens obtain such benefits. The degree to which unauthorized resident aliens should be accorded certain rights and privileges as a result of their residence in the United States, along with the duties owed by such aliens given their presence, remains the subject of debate in Congress. This report focuses on the policy and legislative debate surrounding unauthorized aliens’ access to federal benefits.

Except for a narrow set of specified emergency services and programs, unauthorized aliens are not eligible for federal public benefits. [...]

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