New Omnibus Bill Doesn’t Defund USDA Program Promoting Food Stamps to Illegals, It Only ‘Strongly’ Encourages It to Stop

FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2013, file photo House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Top congressional negotiators released on Jan. 13, 2014, a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pay for the operations of government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year. The 1,582-page bill was released after weeks of negotiations between Rogers and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who kept a tight lid on the details. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The more than $1 trillion federal appropriations measure filed this week in the House does not eliminate a controversial program initiated by the Department of Agriculture and with the assistance of the Mexican government that promotes food stamps through outreach and advertising to illegal immigrants living in and coming into the United States.

In fact, it only “strongly” encourages the Department of Agricultural to stop the program, according to the explanatory statement offered by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers.

Although federal law requires that those granted entry into the U.S. must be able to support themselves financially, the administration continues to promote food stamps to illegal immigrants through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

There is no exact estimate on how much the program has cost taxpayers in terms of personnel, increased enrollment and the actual food stamps distributed to Mexican nationals living in the U.S. illegally because there has never been a cost estimate conducted on the program, a GOP congressional aide told TheBlaze on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The program has existed for more than a decade.

“It’s simply appalling that our government is even doing this—recruiting people who have come to America into government dependence,” said the GOP congressional aide. “There is an ongoing partnership with USDA and the government of Mexico to promote food stamp use by Mexican nationals in the U.S. What happens in the omnibus is they put out the summary document claiming they are prohibiting the program. But in reality, there is no language that does this. There is language in the nonbinding explanatory statement encouraging USDA to stop working with foreign governments to promote food stamp use by immigrants, but that is not legally binding.”

A DHS website has a page promoting welfare benefits to newly arrived immigrants. In the past, documents have been uncovered directing participants that they do not have to divulge their immigration status.

Rogers, however, does discuss the problems with the program and the significant costs believed to be associated with the program in his explanatory statement that was offered with the bill. As is, the omnibus bill allocates $82,169,945,000 for the SNAP and includes roughly $72,000,000,000 for benefits.

“There is concern about the use of valuable tax dollars to promote enrollment of SNAP through radio, television, and other advertisements as well as outreach activities with foreign governments to encourage the use of SNAP. USDA is strongly encouraged to cease these types o f government-sponsored recruitment activities,” Roger’s explanatory statement says. Read the full statement here.

A government aide with knowledge of the proceedings told TheBlaze that “For practical purposes, the Committee considers this language as a ‘directive’ to ‘ban’ and it is binding in that future SNAP budget could potentially hinge on compliance.”

Even though the bill technically would not eliminate the program, it stipulates that the requirements that would help the agricultural secretary “weed out” and “eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in the SNAP program – including a directive to ban fraudulent vendors, and a prohibition on advertisements or outreach with foreign governments.”

The bill was filed Monday night and is expected to be voted on in the House on Wednesday and the Senate by Friday, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.