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Abstract

Scrutiny of immigrants' use of public benefits is a reoccurring theme in U.S. politics. Yet while the tough stance on immigrants taps into popular anti-immigrant sentiment, the consequences of such scrutiny are shared by all welfare recipients. Drawing upon interpretive policy frames, I examine how new requirements to verify citizenship and identity for Medicaid directly impacts social entitlements for both citizen and non-citizen populations. Analysis of state reports and policy studies of citizenship verification requirements for Medicaid illustrate that verification costs may exceed the costs of fraudulent misuse by unqualified immigrants. I argue that devolutionary shifts in welfare and immigration policy from federal to state governments further constrains who can benefit from the full range of rights and entitlements associated with citizenship in the United States.

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