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Aliens’ Rights, Benefits, and Responsibilities: A Compendium
United States is an issue not only in the recurring debate over immigration reform, but also in areas that pertain to the general public, such as welfare, public health and safety, education, labor, and military service. According to the 2011 American Community Survey the number of foreign-born inhabitants is estimated at 40,377,860 million. These numbers have increased slightly over the last couple of years.
The ability of the alien population, particularly unauthorized aliens, to engage in activities and obtain public benefits has been a source of significant controversy at the federal, state, and local levels. Over the past decades, the benefits and privileges accorded to aliens in the United States have fluctuated. At least until recently, the trend at the federal level has been to limit the benefits accorded to non-citizens. In one example of this trend to limit benefits, pursuant to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA, P.L. 104-193), noncitizens were made ineligible for most federal forms of assistance. State and local practice has not been uniform, with some states and localities limiting and others expanding the privileges accorded to aliens on matters such as welfare eligibility, access to higher education, and eligibility for a driver’s license. Whether these trends will continue or reverse remains unclear.
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