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The relationship between immigration and welfare provision is at the heart of welfare politics research. While prior studies have examined how immigration affects welfare generosity, less is known about the consequences of exclusive welfare policies and immigration on social inequality. In this paper, by using TANF as the policy context, we offer a systematic examination of how immigration combined with state immigrant welfare policies affect inequality in welfare usage between citizens and immigrants. Using data across the fifty American states from 2001 to 2016, we find evidence that exclusive state immigrant TANF policies are a key source of decreased immigrant TANF caseload rate and enlarged citizen-immigrant TANF caseload gap. Moreover, states’ immigrant population density moderates the effect of state immigrant welfare eligibility policies on immigrant TANF caseload rate and citizen-immigrant TANF caseload gap. Our robustness checks by using alternative measures of the dependent variable and key independent variable verify these findings.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics