Immigrant Social Policy in the American States: Race Politics and State TANF and Medicaid Eligibility Rules for Legal Permanent Residents
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This article explains variations in the response of states to the devolution of authority in immigrant social policy in the context of the 1996 Welfare Reform. The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA or Welfare Reform Act) allowed states to change their immigrant eligibility rules for both TANF and Medicaid. Specifically, I evaluate the importance of racial demographics in the formation of state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid policies for legal permanent residents. By looking separately at TANF and Medicaid, the findings in this article break from previous research to show that the two policies are driven by different factors and considerations. My analysis shows that while immigrant TANF eligibility decisions where influenced by the majority/minority conflict dominant in the 1990s, immigrant Medicaid policy operated quite differently indicating a less racialized context and more pragmatic, evidence-based discourse and action.