Use of Cash Assistance by Non-Citizens in Missouri
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The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) set in place restrictions on many forms of assistance, including cash grants or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Specifically, these new federal guidelines limited assistance for certain categories of immigrants, most notably those who entered the country after the federal welfare bill was signed in August of 1996. Most of these immigrants were required to have a five year minimum waiting period before they were eligible for cash assistance. However, as with most provisions, states had some ability to modify federal regulations. In Missouri, several groups of non-citizens are allowed to receive TANF. First, non-citizens who were in the country prior to August 22, 1996, and who otherwise meet criteria, maintained their eligibility. Additionally, certain groups who entered the country after August 22, 1996, were also classified as eligible. These included: refugees, asylees, and trafficking victims. According to a report by the Urban Institute, Missouri has a rather extensive safety net system still in place for immigrants, and is ranked among the top quarter of all states (Tumlim, Zimmerman, and Ost 1999). Given these changes, it is important to understand the situation of non-citizens with regard to the safety net in Missouri. How many non-citizens are receiving benefits? Where do they live in Missouri? In this brief, we assess patterns of cash assistance for non-citizens from 1999 to 2003. We find that, overall, noncitizens represent a very small percentage of the caseload, less than five percent at the peak in early 1999. Additionally, cases headed by non-citizens have declined substantially over the time studied, both in terms of raw numbers and relative to cases headed by citizens. The reason for the decline can not be known with certainty, but increased rates of naturalization have played a role. Finally, the non-citizen cases are not spread evenly across the state, but are concentrated in several counties, particularly those that have experienced recent increases in immigration.
Mosley, J.M. & Stokes, S. (2005). Use of Cash Assistance by Non-citizens in Missouri. Report 07-2005. Retrieved 09-30-09, from University of Missouri Columbia, Institute of Public Policy Web site: http://www.truman.missouri.edu/ipp/publications/ briefs.html.