Congress OKs Disability, Long Term Care Bills for Immigrants
The Senate last week gave final congressional approval to a bill that would allow disabled immigrants to become U.S. citizens without taking an oath of allegiance and to a measure extending the amount of time foreigners receiving long term medical care may remain in the United States, the AP/San Francisco Examiner reports. The first bill (S. 2812), which passed the Senate "without dissent" and is supported by President Clinton, applies to immigrants with ailments such as Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome or autism, who are unable to understand or recite the oath or to raise their hands to take it. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials said that under current law, they may waive requirements that applicants for citizenship pass history and English tests, but cannot suspend the oath of allegiance without a change in the law. Sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the bill would permit the attorney general to grant a waiver for "an individual with a disability, or a child, who is unable to understand or communicate an understanding of the meaning of the oath." The second bill, H.R. 2961, creates a three-year pilot program that allows the attorney general to waive an existing 210-day cap on the amount of time international patients receiving medical care are allowed to stay in the country. The legislation, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent and now goes to Clinton, contains "safeguards to ensure the 300 annual waivers go only to those truly in need, according to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas)" (Jansen, AP/San Francisco Examiner, 10/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.