Seeking to End Taxpayer-Funded Windfalls for Nonqualified Aliens
WASHINGTON – The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has submitted a comment supporting the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) request that the Office of Management and Budget reissue approval for HUD to require a declaration of citizenship or eligible immigration status from individuals seeking certain housing assistance.
IRLI’s comment also offered several recommendations encouraging HUD to take steps to ensure the letter and spirit of noncitizen eligibility for public housing benefits laws are fulfilled. First, IRLI recommends HUD issue guidance clarifying which of its programs are considered “Federal public benefits” for purposes of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). PRWORA limits the granting of “Federal public benefit[s]” to “qualified aliens,” and its definition of “qualified alien” generally excludes illegal aliens and nonimmigrants.
Second, IRLI recommends that HUD review the size and scope of programs not covered by Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980 that are administered by “nonprofit charitable organizations.” Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act prohibits aliens from receiving “financial assistance” for housing unless the alien is a U.S. resident and meets other requirements. Any HUD assistance under PRWORA administered by a nonprofit charitable organization is not subject to PRWORA’s noncitizen or alien eligibility verification requirements.
Finally, IRLI recommends HUD review the appropriateness of making some of its programs means-tested.
“IRLI strongly supports HUD’s request to continue its current practice of requiring a declaration of citizenship or eligible immigration status from individuals seeking certain housing assistance,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Under federal law, HUD is generally prohibited from providing financial assistance or public benefits to noncitizens or individuals without an eligible immigration status. Verifying citizenship and immigration status, as well as implementing IRLI’s recommendations, would help ensure that only American citizens or those with qualifying immigration status are eligible for taxpayer-funded federal programs.”
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