Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has offered an amendment that would tighten up some of the citizenship verification loopholes in the Senate health care reform bill (H.R.3590). CALL YOUR SENATORS NOW and urge them to support this amendment. The Capitol Switchboard's telephone number is 202-224-3121; visit your Action Buffet for talking points.
Sen. Sessions' amendment would establish citizenship verification standards for the DHS Secretary, maintain the current 5-year waiting period for new legal immigrants and requires a status check using the SAVE system.
More specifically, the amendment would:
- Eliminates the “discretion” of the DHS Secretary to alter determination formulas. The paragraphs in the underlying bill on Pages 254 and 267 give the DHS secretary the ability to change the rules regarding determination of family size and household incomes. A new secretary could change the rules to allow families that include illegal aliens to game the eligibility determination process to maximize their receipt of taxpayer-funded benefits under this bill. This would violate President Obama’s promise to the American people that the bill won’t cover illegal aliens. Accordingly, this change would ensure that the Secretary is required to make determinations in accordance with the requirements established by Congress.
- Maintains the current 5-year waiting period for legal aliens as established by welfare reform. This proposed language will ensure that the benefits provided to individuals under this bill - including participating in the Exchange (and enrolling in the public option) and receiving any taxpayer-provided subsidies - would be treated as federally means-tested public benefits under the Welfare Reform Act. This language will retain current law so an alien must be a 5-year LPR before the alien can access these benefits. This will ensure Congress continues its long-established policy that immigrants should not become public charges. In addition, by treating participation in the Exchange as a federally means-tested public benefit, illegal aliens would specifically be excluded from participating in the Exchange as (though this provision must be paired with effective verification to be meaningful).
- Establishes a verification process, relying on current law, for the initial process and any redeterminations if someone is determined ineligible. The amendment requires an in-person interview for everyone seeking to participate and an additional status check (through the DHS SAVE system) for all immigrants.