The Senate voted Tuesday to bar immigrants from public assistance programs if the person sponsoring their move to the United States can support them.
“There are two choices,” said Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., the immigration bill’s chief author. “Either a sponsor pays for a legal immigrant or the taxpayers do.”
The Senate bill says a sponsor’s income would be deemed to be part of the immigrant’s income if that immigrant seeks public assistance.
However, amendments sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., were rejected, 54-45.
They would have guaranteed legal immigrants access to government benefits such as emergency medical services, emergency relief and treatment of communicable diseases regardless of their sponsors’ income.
“The public health is at stake, not just immigrants’ health,” said Kennedy.