Giuliani Again Blasts National Leaders on Immigration Laws

Article excerpt

Following up on a recent speech to the National Press Club New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani last week called on Congress to restore federal benefits to elderly and disabled legal immigrants.

At a ceremony on Ellis Island, the gateway to America for a generation of immigrants, Giuliani and other local leaders from around the country signed a "Statement of Principles" urging the repeal of provisions in recently-enacted federal laws that adversely affect legal immigrants. The signing ceremony capped a two-conference on immigration, hosted by Giuliani, designed to draw public attention to the value and importance of immigrants to cities and the nation.

"As Americans we instinctively recognize the inspiration and commitment it takes to aim for a better life in a new country," Giuliani said. "Immigration is the core of what makes the United States the most dynamic and successful nation in the world. Immigration is vital to the economy and culture of our country."

Citing the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996" and the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996," Giuliani said, "Many of the provisions in these new laws treat legal immigrants unfairly and are not related to real immigration reform at all. I call upon Congress for immediate restoration of benefits to legal immigrants. Anything less than this would be cruel and contrary to the principles upon which this great nation was founded."

Legal immigrants fuel the U.S. economy, work, pay taxes, and enrich our nation's cultural and intellectual life, Giuliani said, so they should be entitled to temporary assistance when they have personal difficulties. He complained that the laws enacted last year are inequitable and will impose a massive cost shift from the federal government to many cities and states. Seventy-five percent of the savings anticipated from the laws will come from four states--California, Florida, New York and Texas.

Giuliani and other participants called on Congress to adopt a five-point plan of action to fix the immigration situation:

* restore eligibility to legal immigrants for all means-tested federal benefits to the extent the same benefits are available to citizens;

* enable immigrants to continue receiving essential public health services;

* ensure that legal immigrants remain eligible for public and assisted housing;

* provide targeted funding for the INS to expedite the naturalization process;

* abolish federal requirements which restrict localities from prohibiting their employees from providing information to the INS on the immigration status of aliens seeking basic services. …