President Donald Trump wants Congress to pass a law denying welfare benefits to immigrants for five years.
“I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump said on Wednesday night at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The crowd cheered wildly at this latest example of Trump’s tough-on-immigrants rhetoric, and the president soaked in the applause.
However, such a law already exists.
As The Hill noted, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prohibits immigrants from receiving federal benefits.
One section of the law is even titled “Restricting Welfare and Public Benefits For Aliens,” and specifically sets a five-year threshold for “federal means-tested public benefit.” The section carves out some exceptions for refugees and those granted asylum as well as veterans and active-duty military, their spouses and dependents.
Although it’s not clear how Trump’s proposed law would be different, he still vowed to enact his legislation “very shortly.”