SECTION 1. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 117A the following new chapter:--
Restrictions on Public Benefits
Section 1. Definitions. As used in this chapter the following terms shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:-
“Emergency Medical Condition,” the same meaning as provided in section 1396b (v) (3) of Title 42 of the United States Code.
“Federal Public Benefits,” the same meaning as provided in section 1611 of Title 8 of the United States Code.
“State Public Benefits,” the same meaning as provided in section 1621 of Title 8 of the United States Code.
Section 2. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (d) or where exempted by federal law, on and after January 1, 2012, each agency or political subdivision of the commonwealth shall verify the lawful presence in the United States of every natural person 18 years of age or older who applies for state public benefits or for federal public benefits which are for the benefit of the applicant.
(b) This section shall be enforced without regard to race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or national origin.
(c) Verification of lawful presences in the United States shall not be required: for any purpose for which lawful presence in the United States is not required by law, ordinance, or rule; for obtaining health care items and services that are necessary for the treatment of an emergency medical condition of the person involved and are not related to an organ transplant procedure; for short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief; for public health assistance for immunization with respect to diseases and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases; for programs, services, or assistance, such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter specified by federal laws or regulations that: deliver in-kind services at the community level, including services through public or private nonprofit agencies; do not condition the provision of assistance, the amount of assistance provided, or the cost of assistance provided on the individual recipient’s income or resources; and are necessary for the protection of life or safety or; for parental care.
(d) (1) An agency or a political subdivision shall verify the lawful presence in the United States of each applicant 18 years of age or older for federal public benefits or state public benefits by requiring the applicant to produce a valid Massachusetts driver’s license or a Massachusetts identification card, issued pursuant to section 8 of chapter 90, and section 540 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations 2.06 (3) (b); a United States military card or military dependent’s identification card; or a United States Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card; or a Native American tribal document.
(2) If such documentation as required in paragraph (1) of subsection (d) cannot be lawfully produced, the applicant must execute a notarized affidavit stating that the applicant is a United States citizen or legal permanent resident; or that the applicant is otherwise lawfully present in the United States pursuant to federal law.
(e) Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraph (1) of subsection (d), the commissioner of the department of revenue may issue an emergency rule, to be effective until July 1, 2011, providing for additional forms of identification or a waiver process to ensure that an individual seeking benefits pursuant to this section proves lawful presence in the United States. This subsection and all emergency rules authorized hereunder shall cease to be effective as of July 1, 2011.
(f) A person who knowingly makes a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in an affidavit executed pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection (d) shall pay a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000, or shall be sentenced to serve not less than 6 months nor more than 1 year in a house of corrections. Each time a person receives a public benefit based upon such a statement or representation they make shall constitute a separate violation of this section. (g) (1) For an applicant who has executed an affidavit stating that he or she is an alien lawfully present in the United States, verification of lawful presence for federal public benefits or state or local public benefits shall be made through the Federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement program, referred to in this section as the “SAVE program”, operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Until such verification of lawful presence is made, the affidavit may be presumed to be proof of lawful presence for purposes of this section.
(2) The secretary of each executive office of the commonwealth shall promulgate regulations to ensure that each agency or political subdivision has access to the SAVE program by way of the executive office under which it is organized. Each executive office shall be responsible for the verification through the SAVE program of all its sub-agencies. Each executive office shall enter into a memorandum of understanding or any other requirement pursuant to the SAVE program in order to streamline the verification process. Each executive office shall keep an account of all applications submitted through its subdivisions and transfer back to its subdivisions any costs on an annual basis.
(h) Agencies or political subdivisions of the commonwealth may adopt variations of the requirements of this section to improve efficiency or reduce delay in the verification process or to provide for adjudication of unique circumstances in which the verification procedures in the section would impose unusual hardship on a legal resident of the commonwealth; provided, that the variations shall be no less stringent than the requirements of this section, including provisions to timely execute notarized affidavits.
(i) It shall be unlawful for an agency or political subdivision of the commonwealth to provide a federal public benefit or state or local public benefit in violation of this section. Each agency or department that administers a program that provides state or local public benefits shall provide an annual report with respect to its compliance with this section to the auditor and to the House and Senate chairs of the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight.
(j) Errors and significant delays by the SAVE program shall be reported to the United States Department of Homeland Security which monitors the SAVE program and its verification application errors and significant delays and report yearly on such errors and delays, to ensure that the application of the SAVE program is not wrongfully denying benefits to legal residents of the State.
Section 3. If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held by any court to be unconstitutional or otherwise invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of the section are declared to be severable.
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.