Discrimination Among Classes of Legal Aliens in the Provision of Welfare Benefits

Headnotes: 

Proposed legislation authorizing the states to discriminate among classes of legal aliens in the provision of welfare benefits is within Congress' power, and state statutes passed pursuant to it would likely be held constitutional.

As a general matter, Congress could legislate to prevent states from providing welfare benefits to certain classes of aliens in order to effectuate a national policy on immigration. While there appears to be no basis for Congress’ preempting provisions in state constitutions which mandated the payment of welfare to all aliens, regardless of their legal status, neither does any state constitution appear to contain such a mandatory provision.

Updated July 9, 2014