[Federal Register: August 30, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 170)]


[Page 45985-45986]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]




[AG Order No. 2049-96]


Specification of Community Programs Necessary for Protection of 

Life or Safety Under Welfare Reform Legislation

AGENCY: Department of Justice.

ACTION: Notice.


EFFECTIVE DATE: August 23, 1996.

Office of Policy Development, Department of Justice, 10th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530, telephone (202) 514-9114. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, H.R. 3734, which the President signed on August 22, 1996, vests in the Attorney General the authority to designate the kinds of government-funded community programs, services or assistance that are necessary for protection of life or safety and for which all aliens will continue to be eligible. This Order implements that authority. Background Section 401 provides a new rule that an alien who is not a ``qualified alien,'' as defined in Sec. 431 of the Act, is not eligible for any ``Federal public benefit''--which, in general, means (a) any grant, contract, loan, professional license or commercial license provided by a federal agency or through appropriated federal funds; or (b) any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, post-secondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to individuals, house-holds or families by a federal agency or through appropriated federal funds. Section 411 also makes certain non-qualified aliens ineligible for state and local public benefits unless the state enacts new legislation after August 22, 1996 that affirmatively provides for such eligibility. In addition, Sec. 403 of the Act makes qualified aliens ineligible for specific means-tested federal benefit programs for a five-year period after their entry into the United States as a qualified alien. In addition to certain statutory exceptions, the Act authorizes the Attorney General to establish limited exceptions to these provisions for the following kinds of benefits: Programs, services, or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter) specified by the Attorney General, in the Attorney General's sole and unreviewable discretion after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and departments, which (i) deliver in-kind services at the community level, including through public or private nonprofit agencies; (ii) do not condition the provision of assistance, the amount of assistance provided, or the cost of assistance provided on the individual recipient's income or resources; and (iii) are necessary for the protection of life or safety. This authority appears in several places in the Act, including: Sec. 401(b)(1)(D), with respect to federal public benefits; Sec. 403(c)(2)(G), with respect to the five-year limited eligibility for federal means-tested public benefits; and Sec. 411(b)(4), with respect to state and local public benefits. (This authority also appears in Sec. 423(d)(7) in the context of new requirements with regard to individuals who execute an affidavit of support on behalf of a sponsored alien.) Attorney General Review As required by the statute, the Department of Justice has conducted preliminary consultations with other federal agencies regarding the scope and interpretation of these provisions and their proper application. Given the great variety of federal, state and local programs conducted or supported at the community level, including those administered by private non-profit organizations, and the limited time available, the Department's consultation process is still ongoing. At my direction, the Department is seeking additional, more specific recommendations from all appropriate federal agencies, from representatives of state and local governments, and from the public. Given the immediate effective date of provisions of the Act, I have decided to provide a ``provisional specification'' of programs, services and assistance that will be exempt from the limitations on alien eligibility discussed above, based upon preliminary consultations with appropriate federal agencies and departments. This ``provisional specification'' is effective immediately and will continue in effect pending adoption of a revised specification, if necessary, after further consultations. Should ongoing consultations indicate that further refinements in this specification are appropriate under the Act, I will revise it accordingly. Specification Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Attorney General by law, including Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, I hereby specify that: 1. I do not construe the Act to preclude aliens from receiving police, fire, ambulance, transportation (including paratransit), sanitation, and other regular, widely available services and, for that reason, I am not making specifications of such programs, services or assistance. It is not the purpose of this Order, however, to define more specifically the scope of the public benefits that Congress intended to deny certain aliens either altogether or absent my specification and nothing herein should be so construed. 2. The government-funded programs, services or assistance specified in this Order are those that: deliver in-kind (non-cash) services at the community level, including through public or private non-profit agencies or organizations; serve purposes of the type described in paragraph 3, below, for the protection of life and safety; and do not condition the assistance according to the individual recipient's income or resources, as discussed in paragraph 4, below. 3. Included within the specified programs, services or assistance determined to be necessary for the protection of life and safety are: (a) Crisis counseling and intervention programs, services and assistance relating to child protection, adult protective services, violence and abuse prevention, victims of domestic violence or other criminal activity, or treatment of mental illness or substance abuse; (b) Short-term shelter or housing assistance for the homeless, for victims of domestic violence, or for runaway, abused or abandoned children; (c) Programs, services or assistance to help individuals during periods of heat, cold, or other adverse weather conditions; (d) Soup kitchens, community food banks, senior nutrition programs such as meals on wheels, and other such community nutritional services for persons requiring special assistance; (e) Medical and public health services (including treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries) and mental health, disability or substance abuse assistance necessary to protect life or safety; (f) Activities designed to protect the life and safety of workers, children and youths, or community residents; and (g) Any other programs, services, or assistance necessary for the protection of life or safety. 4. The community-based programs, services or assistance specified in [[Page 45986]] paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Order are limited to those that provide in- kind (non-cash) benefits and are open to individuals needing or desiring to participate without regard to income or resources. Programs, services or assistance delivered at the community level, even if they serve purposes of the type described in paragraph 3 above, are not within this specification if they condition (a) the provision of assistance, (b) the amount of assistance provided, or (c) the cost of the assistance provided on the individual recipient's income or resources. Dated: August 23, 1996. Janet Reno, Attorney General. [FR Doc. 96-22233 Filed 8-29-96; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-01-M