Immigration Reform:

Federal Programs Show Progress in Implementing Alien Verification Systems

HRD-89-62: Published: Mar 31, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1989.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed implementation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act's alien verification requirements.

GAO found that: (1) in 1984, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) created the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements System (SAVE), through which federal, state, and local program offices could verify alien applicants' immigration status; (2) of the 217 state offices responsible for administering the Unemployment Compensation (UC), Food Stamp, Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid, and adult assistance programs, 29 percent reported that they used SAVE, 53 percent planned to use it, 12 percent had requested waivers, and 6 percent had not taken action to comply with the legislation; (3) all of the state UC offices took steps to comply with the legislation, and the Department of Labor (DOL) made decisions on all of the waiver requests; (4) in March 1988, INS published procedures to assist federal departments and state program offices in deciding waivers and implementing the new requirements; (5) DOL issued timely operating guidance to state UC offices and developed detailed guidance on waiver criteria; (6) the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services provided guidance on verification requirements, reimbursable costs, and other operating procedures, but delays in publishing regulations slowed the Food Stamp, AFDC, and Medicaid program offices' implementation efforts; and (7) the Department of Education waived the new verification requirements, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development postponed implementation.

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