Gun Laws & Legislation

TheDC’s top 2012 stories, part 5: The ‘Guns and Food Stamps’ edition

USDA partnering with Mexico to boost food stamp participation

When we reported in July that the USDA was working with the Mexican government to boost the number of food-stamp recipients, most of our readers who weighed in were not amused. Many were unaware that non-citizens can receive these benefits.

But the federal government has long extended its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — what most people call food stamps — to foreign nationals who live in the United States. The aggressive push to enroll as many immigrants as possible began back in 2004, when George W. Bush was president.

The program, the USDA told TheDC, was not meant for illegal immigrants who don’t pay taxes. But some lawmakers were unconvinced that the results played out that way, since they can enroll their eligible children.

Some of the materials the USDA encourages the Mexican government to use to educate and promote the benefit programs are available free online for order and download. A partial list of materials include English and Spanish brochures titled “Five Easy Steps To Snap Benefits,” “How To Get Food Help — A Consumer’s Guide to FNCS Programs,” “Ending Hunger Improving Nutrition Combating Obesity,” and posters with slogans like “Food Stamps Make America Stronger.” …

“It’s a very disturbing policy, gone on for some years, and it raises very serious questions about American immigration policy as well as fiscal policy,” Sen. Jeff Session told TheDC. “Let’s get back to the fundamentals. What happened with the ‘96 welfare reform was to say that if want to you come to America you come legally, you assert you’re not coming for welfare benefits but you’re coming to work or otherwise be independent. There is no logic behind an immigration policy that would encourage immigrants who can’t successfully operate within this society.”

According to Sessions, immigrants who come to America should be able to operate successfully without the aid of government.

“An immigration policy should seek to bring people to the United States who will be able to function independently without government subsidies,” he explained. “We’ve got millions of people that want to come here, millions of people who would be able to perform without a subsidy, so we need to be selecting those people.”

Mexico is the only country with which USDA has a partnership to push nutrition assistance to non-U.S. citizens.

Follow David on Twitter