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                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                        Office of the Press Secretary

                         (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt)

 ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release

October 16, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

      Today, as we observe World Food Day and resolve to continue our work to combat hunger worldwide, I urge Congress to enact my budget proposal to help those here at home by ensuring that legal immigrants have access to critical nutrition and health assistance. Vice President Gore and I believe that legal immigrants should have the same economic opportunity, and bear the same responsibility, as other members of society.  Upon signing the welfare reform law, I made a commitment to reverse unnecessary cuts in benefits to legal immigrants that had nothing to do with the law’s goal of moving people from welfare to work.

     In 1997 and 1998, I joined Congress in taking steps to restore eligibility for many vulnerable immigrants.  Now, it is time to restore benefits to other legal immigrants who are working hard and playing by the rules, but are in need of assistance.  This action would be an important step toward making sure this country does its part to reduce hunger. Congress must also act now to restore state options to extend Medicaid and SCHIP coverage to vulnerable legal immigrant women and children.  I look forward to working with members of Congress in these final days of the budget negotiations to increase access to nutrition assistance and health benefits for legal immigrants.


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