Donald Trump said he wants to enact an immigration law that was passed 20 years ago.

Screengrab via The White House / YouTube

Trump gets cheers for proposing an immigration law Bill Clinton passed 20 years ago

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was signed into law in 1996.


Andrew Wyrich


Published Jun 22, 2017   Updated May 23, 2021, 2:14 am CDT

President Donald Trump enthusiastically told a enraptured crowd Wednesday night that he wanted to crack down on immigration by enacting a law that would prohibit immigrants from being eligible for welfare benefits until they have been in the country for at least five years.

That law already exists. It has for more than 20 years.

“The time has come for new immigration rules that say … those seeking immigration into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump reportedly said during his victory lap rally at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Since a law barring immigrants from receiving government benefits for at least five years already exists, it is unclear what Trump was proposing—but he reportedly said his administration would begin work on the bill “very shortly.”

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. The bill includes provisions that deny “most forms of public assistance” to legal immigrants for five years or until they obtain citizenship, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump harped on immigration throughout his speech in Iowa. The president said people entering the country must “embrace our values” and added that he is considering putting solar panels on his dream wall along the border of Mexico and the United States, according to NBC News.

“We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall,” Trump told supporters gathered at the U.S. Cellular Center here. “This way, Mexico will have to pay much less money.”

Mexico has repeatedly said they are not paying for Trump’s wall.

Trump also told the Iowa crowd that he did not want to appoint a “poor person” to head the U.S. economy.

“I love all people, rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense? Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it. But I like it better this way,” Trump said to the crowd.

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*First Published: Jun 22, 2017, 8:18 am CDT