Expanding Immigrant Access to Welfare: A Moral Obligation
Washington and Lee University, Shepherd Poverty Program
Immigrants -- Legal status, laws, etc.
Immigrants -- Services for
Political obligation -- Moral and ethical aspects
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Tilden Bowditch is a member of the Class of 2013 of Washington and Lee University.Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Immigrants who arrive in the United States illegally have no access to federal benefits at all, relying mostly on charity and emergency health care services. The proposed reform, however, would move many of these illegal immigrants into a legal status that would enable them eventually to be on the welfare rolls, after the five-year waiting period. In this paper, I argue that this waiting period should be eliminated for legal immigrants so they have access to federal assistance if and when they need it. The support for this argument is based on the theory that the United States has a moral obligation to provide relief to the global poor, which includes immigrants. I begin by providing a brief profile of the immigrant poor residing in the United States, including their rates of poverty and use of welfare as compared to those of citizens. This discussion focuses primarily on legal immigrants because almost all the data on undocumented immigrants, or those who arrived illegally, is estimated and the ethics of that situation requires its own paper. Then, I review several philosophers' arguments regarding the moral obligation of a liberal democratic state, one that values equality and liberty, to maintain open borders and provide assistance to the global poor. [From Overview and Introduction]