Brief Fact Summary. Aliens challenge state statutes that restrict and prevent their access to welfare benefits offered to citizens.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state cannot restrict or prevent aliens from receiving benefits offered to state citizens.
Issue. Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) prevents a State from requiring a residency requirement to qualify for welfare benefits and from granting welfare benefits only to citizens of the state and not to aliens.
Held. Yes. A state’s intention to maintain welfare benefits for its own citizens is not a sufficient justification for restricting and preventing aliens access welfare benefits offered to the state’s citizens. Placing restrictions on aliens has historically been a power under the federal government, not state governments. Therefore, “making noncitizens ineligible for public assistance, and . . . restricting benefits to citizens and longtime resident aliens, violates the Equal Protection Clause.” The judgment is affirmed.
Thus, the Court concluded, a state statute that denies welfare benefits to resident aliens and one that denies them to aliens who have not resided in the United States for a specified number of years violate the Equal Protection Clause.View Full Point of Law