Report: Some Illegal Aliens Enjoy Food Stamp Advantage Over U.S. Citizens

Penny Starr | July 11, 2016 | 2:33pm EDT
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(AP photo.) 

( – A new report produced by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) shows that people in the United States illegally can in some cases get more food stamps than U.S. citizens.

The report, released on Monday by the Washington, D.C.-based organization, reveals that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) “provides benefits to families with an illegal alien (or other ineligible alien) wage earner in it, while denying benefits to an identical family comprised of only U.S. citizens.”

The press release announcing the report states: “Although two families may be identical in terms of income and family size, states have the option of including only part of the wages of an employed ineligible alien when calculating SNAP eligibility.”

“Those states which do not count all the income of the ineligible aliens make it easier for a family with an illegal alien present to qualify for food stamps than for an identical all-citizen family,” says the statement.

“Ineligible aliens, in the food stamp program, are primarily illegal aliens and those green card holders who have been in that status for less than five years,” the press release states.

“A bias exists against those here legally when calculating eligibility for food stamps,” David North, a fellow at CIS, says of the data in the report. “This overt bias, which most legislators are probably not even aware of, translates into an estimated $1.4 billion dollar cost to taxpayers.”

The report explains how the system works in favor of illegal alien workers this way:

“Let’s say that the all-citizen family consisted of three people, employed father, stay-at-home mother, and a small child. Dad makes $2,400 a month. The family’s income is too high for food stamps since the maximum monthly income is $2,177 for a family of three. 

(AP photo.) 

“Then next door there is a mixed family, also three people, with the father being the only worker, also earning $2,400 a month. The difference is that the father is an ineligible alien and so, under many states’ regulations, one-third of the family’s income is ignored (prorated is the word in SNAP circles), leaving the family with a nominal income of $1,600 a month that allows the family to get a food stamps allotment, but only for the two citizens, not for all three in the family.

“There is thus a band of households of three with earnings in the range of $2,177/mo. at the bottom to $2,589/mo. at the top that would be eligible for food stamps but only if the wage earner is a non-eligible alien in the eyes of USDA; all-citizen households in this band would not be eligible for food stamps. (Here’s the math: $2,589 = 150 percent of $1,726, the maximum income allowable for a family of two when there is a 33.3 percent discount on the illegal’s wages).”

Thus, the report says, the “proration formula” benefits families who have an illegal alien as the breadwinner of the family.

The report further notes that these added food stamp benefits only help families with higher incomes because mixed families already qualify because of their very low-income status.

“Of the U.S. states and territories, 47 have opted for proration and six have not,” according to the report.

“According to the most recent of SNAP’s State Options Reports the six dissenters are Arizona, Guam, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah,” the report states.

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