There’s a growing debate in the United States about immigration reform and while Arizona’s new law has been getting much media attention, today an amendment offered by Representative Jeff Perry is gaining momentum right here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Sandwich Republican offered the amendment to the FY11 budget which would add a new section requiring the verification of lawful presence before awarding public benefits. To put it simply, if signed into law, it would prevent illegal immigrants from accessing public assistance.
Not surprisingly, after Perry’s amendment was introduced on the House floor, Democratic leaders quickly offered a further amendment, sending it to study. Here’s the kicker…last year on May 1, 2009, the same exact amendment was offered and again, Democrats sent it to study. There was a major difference however between last year’s vote and this year’s. In fact, when the House voted on the further amendment last year, 118 representatives voted to send it to further study, essentially killing debate on the issue. This year, that number dwindled with only 82 members voting to send it to further study.
What a turnaround from last year! Regardless of what the economic ramifications would be of adopting this amendment, the fact of the matter is this is good public policy. Given the current economic crisis, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is having a hard enough time providing assistance to citizens here legally. It is mind-boggling and furthermore a slap in the face to taxpayers that we continue to provide taxpayer-subsidized assistance to people here illegally.
While we believe it’s about time this common sense proposal becomes reality, it is past time we had a straight up or down vote on this amendment.