WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration wants to reverse part of the 1996 welfare overhaul and restore food stamps for 363,000 legal immigrants, an idea that probably will be well received by Hispanic voters this election year.
Immigrants who have lived in the country for at least five years would be eligible for the benefits under the proposal that will be part of President Bush's 2003 budget. Under current rules, adult immigrants must have worked in the country for at least 10 years, no matter how long they had lived in the United States, or be a refugee or member of the military to qualify for benefits.
A senior administration official, who described the proposal Wednesday on condition of anonymity, said the White House wants the rule change included in an overhaul of farm and nutrition policy now pending in Congress.
"I'm not shocked because President Bush has in the past recognized that this was a community that he needs to be accountable to ... and that this is a constituency he would like to appeal to," said Tanya Broder, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center.