The Other Shoe Drops

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NEW YORK CITY: The fallout from President Clinton's welfare law intensified Wednesday, challenged in New York on constitutional grounds and in California as a curb to compassion. New York immigrant advocacy groups filed a class-action suit seeking to block a law that would strip legal aliens of food stamps and monthly benefit checks. New York City was also expected to file suit. While the suit says the law violates the Constitution's equal protection provisions by denying benefits to a certain segment of the population legally in the country, the reason behind the city's push is primarily financial: some 70,000 immigrants in New York City who will lose Supplemental Security Income aid beginning this summer will be shifted onto the city's welfare rolls at a time when Mayor Giuliani wants to cut spending. Meanwhile, California Governor Pete Wilson introduced his state's plan to deny illegal immigrants access to 200 programs, including rent assistance and student aid, now that federal assistance has dried up. The governor believes that California’s generous benefits have been acting as a magnet, drawing illegal immigrants across the border. Wilson's proposals would continue rape counseling, child protective services, immunizations, assistance for victims of violent crimes and in-home or nursing home care for a limited number of aged or severely disabled illegal immigrants. "These programs are for humanitarian purposes, but they do not come cheaply," said Wilson spokesman Sean Walsh.