A loophole that lets families with illegal immigrants get more in federal nutrition assistance than citizen families of the same size and income is still in place, a report published Sunday explains. The report’s author calls it “clear-cut discrimination against citizens.”
David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, questioned the Department of Agriculture and found that the “long-standing (and peculiar) arrangement” by which families with illegals can get more food stamps is still on the books. He also found that the current administration hasn’t placed anyone at the agency who could address the problem.
North explains at CIS’ website that while illegal aliens are not directly given food stamps, the way that some states are able to set up their benefit methods allows them to discount the income of illegals when determining payouts to families, while always counting all of citizens’ income. This gives households of mixed legal status an edge:
Let's look at the system as applied to two similar families who live in adjacent houses; both have incomes of $2,400 a month, both have the same assets, both families consist of a working male, his stay-at-home spouse, and their stay-at-home toddler. The only difference is that one of the men is a native-born citizen and the other is an illegal alien. Everyone else in the two households is a citizen.
OK, so far. Now let's walk through Alice's special mirror, and see how the government handles the situation. It sees the three-citizen family as three people and says that $2,400 a month is too high an income for food stamps. It looks at the other family and sees it as a two-member family, because the man is an illegal, and then — here's the key — the government decides that only two-thirds of the family income should be counted, and that $1,600 is not too high for a family of two, hence the family with the illegal alien in it gets food stamps and the other family does not.
The policy holdover, North says, shows a marked difference between how the two presidents implemented their contrasting immigration policies — and how the Obama administration was better at it.
The reason, North says, is primarily personnel and bandwidth. Whereas Obama’s appointees were able to make small, barely noticed policy tweaks and use the administrative state as an apparatus to implement a licentious immigration policy, the lack of Trump administration counterparts prohibits the Trump administration from getting tough on immigration on the same scale.
Executive orders, after all, can only do so much – thank goodness – and typically do little more than instruct agencies to review a problem and implement their own policies. When those reviews and rewrites are being done primarily by career bureaucrats and Obama holdovers, because of the current administration’s failure to fill almost 80 percent of key administration positions, one shouldn’t hope for much change.
“You can't change policy,” North writes, “at least at the retail level, without people to write and push the new policies.”
And as a result, right now there are still families with mixed citizenship status pulling in welfare benefits, while their equally poor American citizen neighbors get nothing.