If Immigrants on the Road to Citizenship Are Denied Key Social Services, We All Suffer

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This week the Senate began debate on an immigration-reform plan that includes a road map to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants striving for a formal place in American society. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Reform Act of 2013, or S. 744, proposed by a bipartisan coalition of senators, outlines an arduous 13-year pathway to citizenship through which undocumented immigrants may gain legal status and citizenship. Opponents of reform have already proposed amendments that would undermine the basic economic security of people on the road to citizenship.

In particular, senators have proposed limiting the eligibility of immigrants in Registered Provisional Immigrant, or RPI, status—a temporary legal status that is the first step on the path—to receive the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit. In addition, senators have proposed amendments that would bar even legalized immigrants who adjust to legal permanent resident status from receiving supplemental nutrition assistance (formerly known as food stamps) and have in the past attempted to bar anyone from receiving supplemental nutrition assistance unless every member of their family is a citizen or permanent resident (green-card holder).

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