Pennsylvania Citizenship-Verification Legislation Draws Opposition

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Advocacy groups at a Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committeehearing on Wednesday said legislation that would require people toprove U.S. citizenship before receiving government benefits would denyneeded services to low-income and elderly residents and those affectedby domestic violence, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

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Thelegislation would require adults applying for benefits such as Medicaidand welfare to provide a driver's license; U.S. passport; or state- orfederal-government- or military-issued identification card as proof ofcitizenship. Applicants also would be required to sign an affidavitstating they are U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Advocatesof the bill believe it will stop undocumented immigrants from enrollingin taxpayer-subsidized benefits, while those who oppose the bill say itwould make it more difficult for Pennsylvanians who need assistance butlack proper identification to receive benefits. At the hearing, LouiseHayes, a Community Legal Servicesattorney, said, "This bill is unnecessary, would foster an atmosphereof fear and confusion among immigrants, and would prevent poor andelderly Pennsylvanians from getting the benefits they need."

Pennsylvania Department of Public WelfareSecretary Estelle Richman said, "There is simply no proof thatundocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania are receiving benefits forwhich they are not eligible" (Raffaele, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/18).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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