The center focuses on health care access, immigrants' access to services, food and nutrition, the state's eligibility and enrollment system, and TANF.

Recent Immigrants' Access to Services Publications

Statement on Governor’s Addition of Immigration Legislation to the Call for the Special Session (06/8/2011)

On June 7 the Governor added to the call for the special session: “Legislation relating to the use of the federal Secure Communities Program by law enforcement agencies, the issuance of driver's licenses and personal identification certificates, and the abolishment of sanctuary cities in Texas.”

Last year, we released Common-Sense Principles for Immigration Reform, which is a useful starting point to considering these issues. In that paper, we concluded: “To maintain national security, we must be able to control our borders. To grow our economy, we must welcome immigrants who want to work and who have the skills we need. And, we must enforce our laws in a way that honors American traditions and constitutional principles. We can do all this through a common-sense, fact-based approach to immigration reform.”

As the Legislature considers any legislation in response to the Governor’s call, we urge a common-sense, fact-based approach that recognizes the important role immigrants play to our economic vitality and is consistent with who we are as Americans.

A Child Alone and Without Papers (11/13/2008)

Report cover image

A Child Alone and Without Papers, released today by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), reveals what happens to more than 43,000 undocumented, unaccompanied children removed annually from the United States and repatriated to their home countries. Policy analysis and interviews with adults and children in the system revealed the U.S. often compromises children’s rights, safety, and well-being, contrary to international law and U.S. child welfare standards.

For more information, including a two-page summary, backgrounders and appendices, visit

Testimony on Immigrants and Public Benefits in Texas (03/29/2007)
Anne Dunkelberg provided invited testimony on immigrants and public benefits in Texas at an Immigration and Border Security Hearing before the House Committee on State Affairs and the House Committee on Border and International Affairs.

Immigrants and Food Stamps: Separating the Facts from the Fiction (11/7/2006)
Celia Hagert presented on immigrant access to food stamps at the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies' training for food stamp outreach subcontractors.

U.S. House Bill Could Criminalize Safety Net for Immigrants (12/14/2005)
On Thursday, December 15, we expect the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on the “Border Security and Terrorism Prevention Act” (H.R. 4437). The bill includes some very harmful provisions, while making no attempt to address comprehensive immigration reform. Of special concern from CPPP's perspective, HR 4437 threatens to reverse current federal law that protects safety net providers of health care, hunger aid, shelter, disaster relief and other safety net services from having to screen out or discriminate against undocumented persons.

Immigrants and Public Benefits: Training for Community Service Providers (04/21/2004)
Presentation in San Antonio on the facts about immigrants and public benefits in Texas.

Immigrants and Public Benefits: Training for Community Service Providers (12/5/2003)
Presentation in El Paso on the facts about immigrants and public benefits in Texas.

Immigrant Benefits Update (08/12/2003)
In 2002, Congress passed a law that restored eligibility for Food Stamps to legal immigrants with five years of residency in the United States and to all legal immigrant children, regardless of their length of residency in the country. The first of these restorations took effect on April 1, 2003, with the restoration for legal immigrant children to take effect on October 1, 2003.

Flyer: More Legal Immigrants Than Ever Are Eligible to Buy Food Stamps (07/1/2003)
Details on immigrant food stamp eligibility.

Flyer: More Legal Immigrants Than Ever Are Eligible to Buy Food Stamps (En Espanol) (07/1/2003)
Details on immigrant food stamp eligibility.

House Bill 1868 by Coleman: Medicaid for Recent Legal Immigrants (02/1/2003)
HB 1868 would ensure that Texas exercises all available options under federal law to option to draw federal Medicaid and CHIP matching dollars for otherwise-eligible LEGAL immigrants who entered the U.S. on or after 8/22/96.

Immigrant Benefits Update (07/25/2002)
As part of its work to support the restoration of benefits to legal immigrants, CPPP surveyed emergency services providers to assess how restrictions on the use of federal and state funds to serve immigrants have affected these providers' ability to help immigrants. This Policy Page summarizes these developments and the results of our survey.

More Support Needed for Nutrition Funding in Farm Bill (04/12/2002)
Before the Easter recess in March, House and Senate conferees agreed to $6.4 billion over 10 years for the nutrition title of the Farm Bill. When they started meeting again earlier this week to decide which specific provisions to fund, the debate on legal immigrant benefit restorations really heated up. Consequently, these restorations are in jeopardy.

TANF & Immigrants in Texas: Lessons for Reauthorization (02/2/2002)
The 1996 federal welfare law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and contained sweeping changes to immigrants' eligibility for basic cash assistance and other social support programs. Significant restrictions on eligibility were imposed and additional requirements for access to benefits were added.

The Straight Story: Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants in Texas (08/14/2001)
This Policy Page describes the collision between federal, state, and local law and policy which has resulted in the recent legal questions over inclusion by Texas county hospital districts of undocumented, uninsured residents in their health care programs.

Omnibus Medicaid Bill, SB 1156, Sent to Governor (06/4/2001)
On Sunday, May 27th the Senate concurred in House amendments to SB 43, the Children's Medicaid Simplification bill. Later that afternoon, both houses adopted the Conference Committee report on SB 1156, an omnibus bill encompassing a wide range of Medicaid policy changes. This Policy Page provides a brief description of the final version of SB 1156; a separate issue detailing SB 43 was released earlier.

Lege Ponders Immigrant Families Bills (04/3/2001)
The Texas Legislature is considering several bills which could improve the prospects for children by improving legal immigrants' access to safety net benefits. A brief description of the bills is provided.

INS Issues Crucial Guidance on 'Public Charge' Policy (07/1/1999)
Many immigrants, both those with legal status and the undocumented, have avoided using basic public health services and emergency care due to fear, confusion, and misinformation about whether they would be denied a green card, denied naturalization, deported, or asked to repay the value of benefits. The new guidance establishes several important principles outlined in this policy page.

Anti-Hunger Bills in the 76th Legislature (03/23/1999)
Food Assistance for Legal immigrants, Funding to Expand the Summer Food Service Program, Nutrition Education and Outreach Opportunities to address childhood hunger and ensure nutrition assistance for needy families and communities.

Agriculture Bill Restores Food Stamp Benefits to Some Legal Immigrants (08/28/1998)
In June, President Clinton signed the Agriculture Research Bill, legislation that restores federal Food Stamp eligibility for legal immigrants with disabilities and most children and elderly legal immigrants who lost their benefits under the 1996 federal welfare reform law. These restorations will cover roughly 250,000 immigrants, less than one-third of the legal immigrants originally cut off from Food Stamps. The restorations will go into effect on November 1.

Nonqualified Immigrants Face September 1998 SSI Termination (05/1/1998)
A small group of elderly or disabled immigrants who are lawfully present and currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash assistance remain at risk of losing their SSI benefits at the end of the current federal fiscal year.

Many Federal Programs May Be Forced to Verify Citizenship, Exclude Undocumented for First Time (12/19/1997)
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), included language directing that "unqualified" immigrants would no longer be eligible for "federal public benefits."

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997: Immigrant Policy Provisions (09/19/1997)
On August 5, the President signed into law the federal budget reconciliation act for FFY 1998, officially titled the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The Act includes a wide variety of important provisions; this Policy Page describes in a summary way important changes in immigrants' eligibility for public benefits.

Health and Immigrant Benefit Issues Update (07/9/1997)
This Issue of Policy Page provides information on immigrant SSI changes, DSH cuts, and child health proposals included in the House and Senate Federal Budget Bills, and a status report on implementation of federal benefit cuts for legal immigrants in Texas.

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Retreats from Bipartisan Budget Agreement (06/13/1997)
Shaw proposal would deny SSI to more disabled legal immigrants.

Welfare Bills are Moving (03/27/1997)
Thirteen bills are scheduled to be heard and public testimony taken. The bills scheduled for hearing include some very problematic provisions and some that would be positive changes to public assistance. Among them is HB 3431, the companion bill to SB 1067, the only legislation offering direct assistance with the impact of benefits cuts to legal immigrants.

Immigration Provisions Less Harsh as Bill Combined with Budget Bill (10/1/1996)
Over the weekend, the President and Democrats in Congress negotiated the removal of several of the harshest provisions included in the Illegal Immigration conference bill approved by the House September 25th. The revised immigration bill has been folded into an Omnibus Continuing Resolution designed to keep the federal government operating as we enter a new federal fiscal year. This spending bill was approved October 1 and will be signed by the President.

Congress Votes This Week On "Illegal Immigration Reform Act (09/26/1996)
This bill cuts access to health and human services for both legal and undocumented immigrants even deeper than Welfare Act.

Congress Votes This Week On "Illegal Immigration Reform Act (09/26/1996)
This bill cuts access to health and human services for both legal and undocumented immigrants even deeper than Welfare Act.

Immigration Bills Limit Access to Health and Human Services (05/10/1996)
Both houses of Congress have now passed bills that would make major changes in access to public programs by both legal-status and undocumented aliens.

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