The Legacy of Welfare Reform for U.S. Immigrants

Michael Fix and Wendy Zimmermann

in International Migration

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199269006
Published online August 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601309 | DOI:

Series: International Studies in Demography

 The Legacy of Welfare Reform for U.S. Immigrants

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The 1996 welfare reform law marked a sharp exclusionary turn in US immigrant policy by imposing new and unprecedented bans on the receipt of public benefits by legal immigrants. Although in the years following the law's passage, benefit eligibility was restored to certain classes of immigrants, the law nonetheless represents a watershed in US immigration history. Welfare reform also ushered in a number of normative and institutional changes that, when taken together, had profound “chilling effects” on immigrants’ use of public benefits, even among those who remained eligible. Welfare reform has transformed the governance of immigrant policy by devolving authority over eligibility and responsibility for benefit costs to states.

Keywords: chilling effects; eligibility; immigrant policy; immigrants; public benefits; welfare reform

Chapter.  7847 words. 

Subjects: Economic Systems

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