The Department of Agriculture, via the Mexican government, assures potentially ineligible immigrants that they can still apply for food stamps on behalf of their eligible children without giving information about their immigration status, according to documents released Thursday by Judicial Watch.
A USDA Spanish language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy, according to Judicial Watch, reads that if potentially ineligible immigrants want to obtain benefits for their children they “need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”
The Daily Caller has reported extensively about the USDA/Mexico partnership that seeks to promote taxpayer-funded nutrition assistance among eligible Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in America.
“USDA and the government of Mexico have entered into a partnership to help educate eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States about available nutrition assistance,” the USDA explains in a brief paragraph on its “Reaching Low-Income Hispanics With Nutrition Assistance” web page. “Mexico will help disseminate this information through its embassy and network of approximately 50 consular offices.”
The documents Judicial Watch released Thursday shed additional light on the partnership, initiated in 2004 under the Bush administration, which Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions called a “very disturbing policy” last summer. Session has attempted to end the program.
Judicial Watch obtained the brochure and other documents via a Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) request last year. The group says the documents reveals that “USDA officials are working closely with their counterparts at the Mexican Embassy to widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify, or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls,” the group wrote in its press release.
Illegal immigrants and legal immigrants who have been in the country for under five years are ineligible for SNAP. States additionally are required to verify the immigration status of applicants, and immigration documentation is a condition of eligibility.
A USDA Food and Nutrition Service spokesperson stressed to TheDC that illegal immigrants are ineligible.
“Non-citizens who are unlawfully present, are not, nor have they ever been, eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits,” the spokesperson wrote in an email when presented with the Mexican Embassy flyer.
Judicial Watch further released a brief timeline based on the documents they obtained:
· March 30, 2012 – The USDA seeks approval of the Mexican Embassy in drafting a letter addressed to consulates throughout the United States designed to encourage Mexican embassy staffers to enroll in a webinar to learn how to promote increased enrollment among “the needy families that the consulates serve.”
· August 1, 2011 – The USDA FNS initiates contact with the Mexican Embassy in New York to implement programs already underway in DC and Philadelphia for maximizing participation among Mexican citizens. The Mexican Embassy responds that the Consul General is eager to strengthen his ties to the USDA, with specific interest in promoting the food stamp program.
· February 25, 2011 – The USDA and the Mexican Consulate exchange ideas about getting the First Ladies of Mexico and United States to visit a school for purposes of creating a photo opportunity that would promote free school lunches for low-income students in a predominantly Hispanic school.
· March 3, 2010 – A flyer advertises a webinar to teach Hispanic-focused nonprofits how to get reimbursed by the USDA for serving free lunch over the summer. The course, funded by American taxpayers, is advertised as being “free for all participants.”
· February 9, 2010 – USDA informs the Mexican Embassy that, based on an agreement reached between the State Department and the Immigration & Naturalization Service (now ICE), the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) food voucher program does not violate immigration laws prohibiting immigrants from becoming a “public charge.”