Last week, the Democrats in both the House and Senate introduced legislation that would allow immigrants immediate access to many federal benefits without waiting for the mandatory five years that was implemented in 1996. The Lifting Immigrant Families Through Benefits Access Restoration, or LIFT the BAR, Act would give immigrants access to Medicaid, food stamps, and other federal benefit programs.
According to the proposal, the number of non-elderly immigrants is expected to rise to 8 percent of the population by 2024, but they will make up 31 percent of the non-elderly uninsured population. In an effort to combat this issue, non-elderly immigrants will now be able to access basic services without delay.
However, according to the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), the bill would not only provide benefits to lawful immigrants but also to illegal ones whose deportations have been deferred, such as DACA recipients and parolees. The cost of the legislation could easily reach well into the billions, and it is backed by hundreds of open-border organizations.
In 1996, Congress introduced the five-year waiting period to stop foreign nationals emigrating to the United States from becoming a fiscal burden to Americans, including generations of immigrants who have already settled in the U.S. The progressive Democrats sponsoring the LIFT the BAR Act, however, believe that common-sense public policy should not apply to non-citizens.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who co-authored the bill, said, “Immigrants and families should not have to wait to access these basic services. The LIFT the BAR Act is an urgent, necessary, and just step towards ensuring we treat immigrants with the respect they deserve.” However, this statement overlooks the fact that the U.S. has a legal immigration process, which any immigrant aspiring to take advantage of America’s prosperity should follow.
Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, another co-author of this bill, suggested that immigrants “should not have to endure an arbitrary waiting period just to access essential benefits,” adding that “unjust policies have prevented millions of lawfully present immigrants from accessing critical services and programs, including quality health care, food and housing assistance, economic support, and more.” Such policies may not be unjust if they serve as a crucial motivation for immigrants to assimilate into American society and be mindful not to become a fiscal burden on the American taxpayer.
The LIFT the BAR Act effectively diminishes the need for these key provisions, encouraging a culture of entitlement among non-citizens. Democratic Representative Tony Cárdenas, another co-author of this bill, said, “Families that are working toward a better life here in America should not have to wait five years to access resources they need to survive and thrive.” Nevertheless, while families working towards a better life have every right to do so, it shouldn’t come at the expense of American taxpayers.
If the LIFT the BAR Act goes on to become law, it would set a dangerous precedent that would seriously undermine America’s immigration process. Taxpayers are obligated first and foremost to their own citizens and should not be forced to provide for non-citizens who have yet to prove their worth to American society.