Fearing a public relations disaster if elderly and disabled immigrants are turned out onto the streets, key congressional Republicans are softening their opposition to restoring federal welfare benefits to immigrants.
Prospects remain remote for repealing the ban on aid to most immigrants. But immigration supporters say they believe Congress will provide at least a minimal level of assistance to some legal immigrants who are scheduled to lose benefits in the coming months.
“We are gaining hope,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group in Washington. “The question is no longer whether a fix will occur. It’s how much of a fix will occur.”
In recent weeks, a group of governors has stepped up efforts to persuade congressional leaders to reconsider the new welfare law’s treatment of immigrants.
The governors are worried they will be stuck with the financial and human consequences of the law, which would deny federal disability and pension benefits to some 500,000 legal immigrants beginning in August and September.