GOP on immigrants, term limits

REPUBLICANS intent on overhauling the nation's welfare system want to finance expensive new work programs for single mothers by denying public aid to thousands of legal immigrants.

The restrictions on government services and benefits to legal immigrants, with exceptions for refugees and the very elderly, are supposed to save $22 billion over five years and are part of the GOP's ``Contract With America.''

House Republicans have promised votes on welfare reform and nine other bills in the contract early next year.

Under their plan, legal immigrants would be barred from 60 different health, education, job training, nutrition, housing, and social service programs - from school lunches and foster care to rental and energy assistance.

Some of the biggest savings would come from kicking legal immigrants off Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides monthly checks of $446 to the elderly and disabled. The number of immigrants receiving SSI has grown dramatically in recent years, from 127,900 in December 1982 to more than 700,000 today, and they now account for 12 percent of all recipients.

Another proposal in the ``Contract'' is a first-ever vote on congressional term limits, but some House Republicans are having second thoughts about limiting their own stays in Washington.

The man who will be the new House majority leader, Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, suggested that public support for term limits may wane now that the GOP will control Congress. If Republicans ``can straighten out the House,'' he said in a recent interview, Americans may not be so enthusiastic about a constitutional amendment limiting the time a person may serve in Congress.

Many Republican candidates made term limits a key issue in their successful runs for congressional seats in the Nov. 8 elections. But, Congressman Armey says, ``I think Americans will find their enthusiasm for term limits waning quite a bit,'' if the Republicans ``can straighten out the House.''

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