NEW WELFARE SYSTEM: DAY 1
OCTOBER 1, 1996
Reforms, signed into law in August ending federal welfare guarantees, are now in effect. The NewsHour looks at how states, who must now devise their own plans, will cope. Elizabeth Brackett in Wisconsin, Paul Solman in New York, and Jeffrey Kaye in California, report.
JEFFREY KAYE: In Los Angeles, county welfare workers have begun to dismantle welfare as we know it by implementing the food stamp provisions of the new law. Today this Armenian couple, recent immigrants from Iran, were among the first to receive the bad news. Although they are legal immigrants, they are not eligible to receive food stamps under the new law. Officials laid the groundwork for the aid cut-off last Thursday at a meeting of managers from LA county’s 30 welfare offices. Legal immigrants and food stamps were at the top of the agenda.
A RealAudio version of of this NewsHour segment is available.
October 1, 1996:
How states must now devise their own plans: Elizabeth Brackett in Wisconsin, Paul Solman in New York, and Jeffrey Kaye in California, report.
Read a special Online NewsHour backgrounder on the wide range of issues -- and tight deadlines -- states face when crafting new welfare programs.
July 31, 1996:
Three members of Congress discuss the politics between the new welfare reform bill passed this year.
May 21, 1996:
Two state legislators and two national Welfare experts debate the merits of the Wisconsin Works, or W-2, welfare reform program, often held up as a model for national welfare reform.
Browse the Online NewsHour's welfare coverage.
WOMAN: With the legal immigrants, this is only going to apply to brand new applicants.
JEFFREY KAYE: Gail Esfanhaniha of the LA County Food Stamp program explained that eventually food stamps for some 215,000 legal immigrants will be phased out. But for now, only new applicants are being denied foot stamps under the federal welfare law, with some exceptions.
GAIL ESFANHANIHA, LA County Social Services: So if they have 10 years of work history, if they’ve worked and if they help paid into their taxes, then they’re going to get whatever benefits, um, that they’re entitled to.
JEFFREY KAYE: Besides the work history, legal immigrants can get food stamps if they’re refugees, or if they’ve been in the U.S. military. Today social workers were still getting used to the new rules and passing out the new forms. But food stamp applications by legal immigrants have slowed to a trickle since, according to district director Jan Creech, the word about the new law is out in the immigrant communities.
JEFFREY KAYE: We’ve been here all morning, and we saw maybe two or three, uh, applicants.
JAN CREECH, LA County Social Services: We’re seeing fewer. I’m getting the impression that it’s more from what they’re reading and hearing. Their sense--my sense of it is that there’s a lot of confusion out in the community as well. They’re hearing things about immigration. They’re hearing things about time limits, and, uh, at this point there are no details, so I think they’re uneasy about coming in.
JEFFREY KAYE: Although denied food stamps, Miras Merzakan Mazehe and Gozo Hakupian are still hoping to receive some kind of assistance. Mazehe, a tailor, is unable to work because of an arm injury he suffered from an Iraqi missile during the Iran-Iraq War.
JEFFREY KAYE: Were they planning on the food stamps, and what’s going to happen now? What are they planning on doing?
ANAIT MARTIROSIAN, Translator: They don’t have money, and they are up for the general relief, and if they says no--she says what can I do?
JEFFREY KAYE: Welfare officials say families are already showing up hungry when they apply for aid. They are not worried that the new law will make matters worse.
JAN CREECH: I think we’re going to see people going hungry more often than we have in the past.
JEFFREY KAYE: But supporters of the welfare law, say that those who sponsored legal immigrants and charity groups should step in to help.