Increasing the Food Stamp Rolls
About 1.63 million non-citizens living legally in the US are collecting food-stamp benefits according to a congressional report. A supporting headline is that the Department of Agriculture
(USDA) with support and encouragement from the Obama Administration, met with the Mexican Government multiple times to promote and encourage food stamp use among Mexican immigrants.
This ongoing federal program began in 2004. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “USDA personnel have met at least 151 times with officials from the Mexican government to discuss nutrition assistance programs as well as to provide program updates.” The USDA even uses Spanish language soap operas or novelas, to encourage program enrollment.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has stated, regarding the USDA program that, “the program appears to be in plain conflict with the sound principles of federal immigration law.” Sessions in a letter of request to Secretary Vilsak also stated, “The compassionate policy is not seeking to place the largest possible number of people on welfare support…”
With current estimates of every 1 in 6 people in the United States on food stamps, the Obama Administration’s active policy to increase the number of program participants is called into question. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps is the USDA’s largest annual budget expense, having doubled in the past four years.
A recent Census Bureau report found that, the majority of households across the country benefiting from publicly-funded welfare programs are headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal. The report went on to say that most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants use taxpayer-funded welfare programs on behalf of their American-born anchor babies. Thus the problem.
Secretary Vilsack has stressed that illegal immigrants are barred from participating in SNAP, and that states are required to determine whether applicants are legal citizens. However given that there are a multitude of extended families of both illegal and legal immigrants, the determination process is muddled. The USDA’s Food Nutrition Services supports the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) eligibility check program.
One issue not addressed in the overall question of the USDA’s program is are they spending as much time and effort in seeking to enroll qualified non immigrant U.S. citizens in the SNAP program?