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Clinton Restores Food Stamps Benefits To Some Legal Immigrants

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 22) -- Righting "a wrong," President Bill Clinton signed an agriculture bill Tuesday morning that restores food stamp benefits to a quarter of a million legal immigrants.


Lawmakers voted two years ago to eliminate the benefits as part of the Welfare Reform bill. At the time Clinton signed the legislation into law, but called the food stamp measure "mean-spirited."

"When I signed the Welfare Reform bill in 1996, I said the cuts in nutritional programs were too deep, and nothing whatever to do with welfare reform," Clinton said Tuesday during a Rose Garden Ceremony.

Federal assistance will be restored to immigrants who are children, senior citizens, refugees and disabled people who were in the U.S. before 1996.

"None of these benefits cuts had the first thing to do with welfare reform. Reinstating them is the right thing to do and will have nothing to do with the success we have enjoyed which has brought welfare rates in America down to a 29 year low now," Clinton said.

The restoration of benefits is limited as nearly a million legal immigrants were removed from food stamp eligibility by welfare reform and those who came later, or don't fall into those groups are still shut out.

Some lawmakers say restoration of benefits is all about politics.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said, "We were trying to maintain welfare and food stamps for the truly needy, which every American citizen supports and what we've begun to do is turn it back into a political pork barrel program perhaps."

But Jim Weill of the Food Research & Action Center said, "It may be good politics in some parts of the country to cut benefits to immigrants. I think ultimately it's bad politics and it is certainly bad social policy."

Weill cites studies showing immigrants without food stamps have an extraordinary high rate of hunger.

Barton says that's not his experience: "These 250,000 aliens who are now going to be eligible for food stamps again, I'm not aware of any comprehensive study or documented need for that benefit."

Even those restored to the food stamp rolls with the day's action will have to wait a little longer. Because of budget considerations, the benefits won't take place until the November 1.

CNN's Carl Rochelle contributed to this report.
In Other News

Tuesday, June 23, 1998

Podesta Recalled Before Lewinsky Grand Jury
GOP Senators Delay Anti-China Amendments Until After Clinton Trip
Clinton Nominates Cancer Specialist As First Woman To Head FDA
New Mexico Voters Go To Polls In Fierce House Race
Justice Department Investigates Commerce's China-Satellite Decision
President Clinton Issues New Medicare Rules
Feinstein And Hatch Announce Bipartisan Tobacco Bill
Immunity Deal Reached For Fund-Raising Witnesses
Clinton Restores Food Stamps Benefits To Some Legal Immigrants

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