Graham v. Richardson

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In Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 372 (1971), the U.S. Supreme Court held that classifications by a State that are based on alienage are "inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny."

The Court held that a State may not withhold welfare benefits from resident aliens "merely because of their alienage." Id. at 378. Such discrimination, the Court concluded, would not only violate the Equal Protection Clause, but would also encroach upon federal authority over lawfully admitted aliens. In support of the latter conclusion, the Court noted that Congress had "not seen fit to impose any burden or restriction on aliens who become indigent after their entry into the United States," id. at 377, but rather had chosen to afford "lawfully admitted resident aliens ... the full and equal benefit of all state laws for the security of persons and property," id. at 378. The States had thus imposed an "auxiliary [burden] upon the entrance or residence of aliens" that was never contemplated by Congress. Id. at 379.