A source close to Governor Warner says that he still has not decided whether to sign House Bill 1798, which would require people seeking public benefits to prove legal presence in the United States. This bill, patroned by Fairfax Republican Dave Albo, would place already overburdened social service workers in the position of acting as immigration police, hindering them from achieving their mandate to help folks in need. Additionally, because this bill requires applicants provide documentation before receiving benefits, those known as "technically undocumented"—who do not have the papers proving their legal presence or who are in a legal limbo pending the resolution of the immigration process—could be barred from services they are entitled to. Many of these people are children who have lived all their lives in the US, but were brought to this country illegally by their parents.
In addition to cutting off needy people from social services, this bill will also further intimidate immigrants from seeking government services. Misinformation that social workers are working with the INS can keep parents from seeking medical care for their children, and neighbors may be unwilling to report child abuse if they fear Social Services will help deport illegals. The enactment of this legislation will lead to the propagation of such a misimpression.
This bill will fundamentally compromise the ability of Social Service workers to ensure the health and safety of the Commonwealth's most vulnerable. Call Governor Warner at (804) 786-2211, or send him an email him through his website to urge him to veto this bill.