Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani


Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, August 4, 1996

Good morning. Last week Congress adopted a welfare reform bill that could do significant harm to the City and to our citizens.

Although this bill takes an important step forward by returning power and authority over welfare to state and local governments, ultimately it does more harm than good by unfairly penalizing children and America's hard working immigrant communities.

The inclusion of these provisions have turned what could have been significant welfare reform into the cynical triumph of political appearance over substantive reality.

In New York City we have not postured about welfare reform, we've actually done it. Under my administration, New York City has led the nation in welfare reform -- real reform.

Over the last year and a half we have moved 155,000 people off welfare. And our workfare program -- which is by far the largest in the nation -- has 34,000 participants who work in return for their welfare check. New York City has now become a model for workfare, while maintaining our long tradition of caring for the needy.

And while I strongly support work requirements, one major failure of the new federal bill is its lack of sufficient funding for child care and day care, which is a critical component of any sensible, humane and successful workfare program.

I am also deeply disturbed by an anti-immigration agenda contained in this bill. By adopting these provisions, Congress is abdicating its responsibility to sensibly control America's borders and passing immigration funding issues along to local and state governments.

It is wrong and inconsistent for Congress to take away federal benefits from legal immigrants, after all, its the congress and federal government that decide how many legal immigrants should come into the United States, and then those immigrants pay taxes. When those immigrants have problems and difficulties all of a sudden, under this legislation congress and the federal government is saying, we will abandon them and they become the responsibility of state and local governments. This is simply unfair.

Clearly, the passage of this bill has been influenced by a national backlash against immigration. This is a reaction that surfaces periodically unfortunately throughout American history.

But our history also shows that, New York City and our nation are reinvigorated and strengthened by the arrival of new people from different lands.

Immigrants own businesses and work in higher percentages than other Americans. Take away immigration and you take away American jobs, productivity and human reform and reinvigoration.

Immigrants bring with them an optimistic "can do" attitude and a love of freedom and democracy that we embrace and reward in New York City. And this latest assault on our immigrant communities represents regressive political thinking in Washington.

It is up to our leaders in Washington to forgo political expediency and it would be best if they waited until after the November elections to work on serious, substantive reform. Hopefully, once these elections are over they can all settle down and undo some of the damage that they have done. We will work hard and fight hard for that.

From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani.

Go to Press Releases | Giuliani Archives | Dept. of Records | Home Page
Contact Us | FAQs | Privacy Statement | Site Map