Senate Votes To Restore Food Stamp Eligibility For Legal Immigrants

Bread for the World
Thursday, 7 February 2002

Startling Turnaround From Rhetoric and Policies Enacted Five Years Ago, Says Bread for the World President

[Below are comments of Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a leading grassroots anti-hunger organization, on the 96-1 vote in the U.S. Senate today on an amendment offered by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) that would transfer $1.4 billion in savings, from crop subsidies, to the Food Stamp Program, specifically restoring eligibility for legal immigrants, along the lines of what President Bush proposed in his Fiscal Year 2003 budget. During the ongoing debate on the Farm Bill, Bread for the World's 45,000 members have been lobbying Congress to restore those benefits, as well as provide additional funding for the program. In 1998, BFW helped secure partial restoration of food stamp benefits for legal immigrants who were cut off under the 1996 welfare reform bill -- that 1998 law helped approximately 200,000 children, elderly and disabled legal immigrants who were in the United States prior to 1996 and who could show ten years of employment. An estimated 838,000 legal immigrants were cut off from food stamps under the 1996 welfare reform law.]

"The overwhelming vote today in the Senate to restore food stamps for legal immigrants is a vote for fairness and common sense. There's still work ahead to convince House leaders, but it's enormously encouraging to see a startling turnaround in the debate over food stamps compared to five years ago.

"Legal immigrants work hard and play by the rules, yet for the past five years, many have been deprived of access to food stamps, the nation's foremost anti-hunger program. With today's vote, the Senate has followed President Bush's courageous lead to restore fairness to the Food Stamp Program. When the Farm Bill goes to conference, I urge House leaders to follow suit and support these important changes to food stamps."

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