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Missouri House Committee Looks At Revoking Public Assistance For Some Immigrants

Legislation that would repeal public assistance for some immigrantsis being considered by a Missouri House committee.

Under current law, people whose immigration status is unverified can still receive state and local public benefits for up to 90 days while they try and obtain proper documentation.  That provision would be eliminated under a bill sponsored by State Representative Wanda Brown(R, Cole Camp).

“That is just bad policy," Brown said.  "There’s nothing stopping you from, in 90 days, going to the next county and saying, ‘I don’t have any ID right now, I can’t come up with it.’”

Brown admits that there are no reported cases of this happening, but says her bill would be a preventive measure.  Vanessa Crawford Aragon with the group Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) spoke against the bill during a hearing Thursday.  She says it could result in people who are legally in the US to lose public benefits.

“I don’t think that we’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of people, but I do think that there are going to be families for whom this is an issue, families that currently are being turned away because their situation is complicated,” Aragon said.

The House Committee on Downsizing Government has taken no action on the measure yet.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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