Grove Votes for Bill Approved by House Requiring Proof of Legal Residency for Welfare Benefits

HARRISBURG - Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) today voted for legislation approved by the state House that would require welfare applicants in Pennsylvania to provide proof that they legally reside within the United States in order to receive benefits. 

“The helping hand of public assistance should only be made available to those who are legally in our country,” Grove said.  “Every welfare dollar that winds up in the pocket of an illegal immigrant is another dollar that cannot be used to fund our schools, help our senior citizens or reduce taxes for legal Commonwealth residents.” 

Senate Bill 9 would require welfare applicants to provide identification proving their legal residency or sign an affidavit affirming the legality of their presence in the United States. 

Acceptable forms of ID would include, among others, a Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. passport, a U.S. government ID card, or documentation from the U.S. government or a state National Guard establishing the applicant is a current member of or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard. 

Under the bill, the possession or use of an electronic benefits card – known in Pennsylvania as an ACCESS card – by anyone who is not lawfully present in the United State would be a third-degree felony. 

Agencies that administer public benefits would have to verify the eligibility of applicants through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlement (SAVE) program. 

The identification and affidavit requirements would not apply to applicants who are under 18 years of age, currently receiving Supplemental Security Income or Social Security disability income, or is enrolled in or entitled to benefits under the traditional Medicare program or Medicare Part B.  The requirements also would be waived for victims of domestic violence who file a separate affidavit to that effect. 

“This is a commonsense measure to protect taxpayers while ushering limited resources to legal residents,” Grove said. 

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

State Representative Seth Grove
196th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Nicole Wamsley