President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’ll pursue legislation that would bar immigrants from being eligible for welfare for at least five years – though most already are. Trump said at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that “the time has come” for “new immigration rules” that would require those seeking admission to the country to be able to support themselves financially and would bar the use of welfare for a period of at least five years. He said his administration would be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”
It is unclear, however, how Trump’s proposal would change the current situation. U.S. immigration law already bars most foreigners who enter the country on immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits like Social Security and food stamps for the first five years. States typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local programs. Foreigners with non-immigrant visas and those who don’t have legal status are generally prohibited from those benefits altogether.