Nov 20, 2012 No Comments ›› Infidel
Excerpted from BOSTON HERALD: Local lawmakers are fuming over an Obama administration policy promoting welfare and EBT benefits for immigrants, with a “welcome” package and promotional website that encourage new arrivals to take advantage of the nation’s generous government largesse.
“I think it’s a complete outrage that we’re encouraging people coming here to get on public assistance,” said state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, a Taunton Republican who has fought for EBT reform. “We should be encouraging people to be self-sufficient. These programs are rampant with fraud and abuse.”
The fight over welfare for recent immigrants is unfolding in Washington, where a group of GOP senators has sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack demanding answers as to why food stamps and other welfare benefits are being promoted to new immigrants. The agency’s Welcome toUSA.gov website includes a comprehensive handbook directing immigrants on how to obtain food stamps, Medicare, disability and other taxpayer-funded aid.
“The federal government now is giving packets to people when they come to the United States … that promote welfare benefits,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican and ranking member of the Senate budget committee. “That is contrary to law and sound policy.”
A USDA spokesman could not be reached late yesterday. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, which runs the website, told the DailyCaller.com the agency is just trying to provide a wide range of government services and is not advising immigrants about their eligibility.
“They explicitly suggest on this website that immigrants would be eligible,” Sessions countered. “I think we should be very clear in ensuring that immigrants have the ability to take care of themselves financially as soon as they come into the country.”
Sessions and three other GOP senators sent a letter to top Obama cabinet members in August asking how many people were given visas who are now on public assistance. A follow-up letter sent last month seeks to determine how much federal money is spent annually on food stamps for noncitizens, as well as explanations on why the USDA is actively promoting welfare expansion.
Sessions noted the nation’s immigration policy historically has been to deny admission to anyone who would become “a public charge.”
“It flies in the face of what the immigration policy is supposed to be,” said state Sen. Robert Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican who has also fought for EBT reform. “People with skills can’t get in, and our USDA is advertising benefits for people who are immediately going to go on welfare. There’s a great bit of irony there.”
Among a host of concerns cited by Sessions and his colleagues:
• The USDA signed a pact in 2004 with Mexico requiring 50 U.S.-based consulates to hand out information to Mexican nationals on how to obtain welfare and other benefits.
• The agency created a Spanish-language ad in which an individual is “pressured” into accepting food stamps, even though she says her family is self-sufficient.
• The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — has a website that includes a “community outreach partner toolkit” that says local communities “lose out” when eligible people don’t apply for benefits. The site claims that boosting participation will generate billions in “new economic activity.”
A SNAP pamphlet says Electronic Benefits Cards, which allow welfare recipients to withdraw cash and pay for food and other items, “make it more difficult to commit SNAP fraud.” The ad also states: “Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled.”
Another site gives SNAP recruiters tips on how to “overcome the word ‘no’” when seeking to sign up new recipients.