President Trump in a rally on Wednesday evening said immigrants who enter the United States should not be eligible for welfare benefits for five years, though such a law has already existed for 20 years.
“The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for at least five years,” Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The president said his administration would be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”
But such a law is already in effect and has been in place since 1996.
Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit” for five years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country.
There are exceptions under the law as to what qualifies as a federal means-tested public benefit. Some exceptions include certain medical assistance, “in-kind emergency disaster relief” and public health assistances for some vaccines.
Trump has long pushed for more aggressive immigration policies, seeking to build a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico.