June 22, 2017 11:02 am
Updated: June 22, 2017 11:06 am

Donald Trump pledges new law that has already existed for 20 years

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S. June 21, 2017.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
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U.S. President Donald Trump wants to enact a new law restricting welfare benefits for immigrants for five years. But there’s a problem.

The law has already been on the books for 20 years.

Trump spoke at an Iowa rally Wednesday night, saying his administration would be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly,” The Hill reported.

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“The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump said at the rally.

“We also want to preserve our safety net for struggling Americans who truly need help.”

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was passed in 1996 by former president Bill Clinton. The law states that immigrants will not be eligible for “federal means-tested public benefit” for five years after they arrive in the United States.

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The current law does have a few exceptions for veterans, disaster relief and some refugees. It’s unclear if Trump’s proposal would be any different.

The president’s announcement comes as part of his larger campaign promise to crack down on immigration in the U.S. Trump has promised to establish stricter regulations for education and language skills for immigrants allowed into the country.

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While at the rally, Trump also renewed calls for a wall between Mexico and the U.S., saying that he wants the wall to include solar panels, NBC News reported.

“This way, Mexico will have to pay much less money,” Trump explained to the crowd.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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