Welfare Reform Act (United States) (1996)


More formally the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the Welfare Reform Act reflected the anti-immigrant mood of the 1990s and frustration over the mounting costs of providing social services to both citizens and immigrants. U.S. president Bill Clinton angered liberal members of his own Democratic Party by signing the measure on August 22, 1996, in a move aimed at strengthening his conservative support for the November 1996 presidential election.
The major feature of the measure was to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which limited aid to two consecutive years and five years over a lifetime. More specifically, regarding immigrants, it denied cash welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income to legal immigrants, though it did provide reimbursement to states for emergency services rendered. In 1998, under pressure from immigrant advocacy groups, Congress restored food stamp benefits to 250,000 of 935,000 immigrants who had been declared ineligible to receive them.

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