For her senior thesis last year, development studies concentrator Trisha Pande ’10 turned her sites on the United States, where a 1990s federal law was passed that created what she calls citizen-based exclusion from welfare. By making legal immigrants ineligible for welfare if they arrived in the US after 1996, and leaving the option of state-funded welfare for those who came before, the law created an interesting treatment and control group, she says in this video.
With that, she poses her question: Does it really make sense to take non-citizens off welfare, given their obstacles and vulnerabilities? And her answer was an emphatic no. “Income inequality is mitigated by the welfare state,” she says. Among other reasons, “the welfare state is really important: It determines who is and isn’t a member of society. … We’re talking about legal immigrants, here, people who pay taxes. … This law allows for federal discrimination towards immigrants. … It didn’t really push people off welfare to work, it just pushed people off welfare and made poor people poorer.”