Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post would like for you to know that she's super sad that "Immigrants are going hungry so Trump won't deport them."
No, that's not the title of a satirical article published on The Onion, Caitlin actually published a note describing her complete devastation when she discovered that, under a Trump administration, illegal aliens may unilaterally choose to stop breaking numerous federal laws, including multiple counts of identity theft as that's the only conceivable way an illegal immigrant could get food stamps in the first place, in order to avoid being punished for other federal laws they've already broken.
Perhaps Caitlin doesn't quite understand how entitlement programs work? You see, Caitlin, despite what you may have been told by Nancy Pelosi or Bernie Sanders, entitlement programs in the U.S. are not funded by the 'entitlement fiary'. No, in reality, taxpaying citizens (key word there), pay into those programs so that they'll have a safety net to fall back on to the extent they fall on economic hard times. So, hopefully that helps clarify why it might be problematic for people who don't pay taxes in the U.S. to create falsified identities to collect benefits reserved for people who actually paid for them.
Of course, Caitlin, like the majority of the so-called 'progressives' in America, does understand exactly how entitlement programs work but simply feels that American taxpayers somehow have a duty to share their monthly paychecks with the folks who choose to immigrate to this country illegally. But where does that "spread the wealth around" logic end? By Caitlin's logic, why should Americans only be required to provide financial assistance to those who have broken the law to get here...should they not have to provide similar financial support to anyone around the globe with similar needs? Perhaps Caitlin is just being 'heartless' by focusing on domestic illegal aliens while ignoring the rest of the world.
According to the Department of Agriculture, 1.5 million noncitizens received food stamps in the 2015 fiscal year, as did 3.9 million citizen children living with noncitizen adults. For legal immigrants who entered the country after August 1996, eligibility is determined based on their age and time in the U.S. Adults qualify only after they’ve lived in the U.S. for five years, or if they’re refugees or disabled; children who entered legally qualify sooner. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants are never eligible for food stamps, though they may live in a “mixed eligibility” household that does receive them.
Of course, we hardly expect logical arguments on the practical limitations of entitlement programs to influence Caitlin's political views on the topic. After all, it's much easier to tell heartbreaking stories than to have practical conversations grounded in facts.
Luisa Fortin sometimes sits up at night, wondering what her clients are eating. She is the SNAP Outreach Coordinator for the Chattanooga Food Bank — but lately she has done less outreaching.
Her families, working immigrants in northwest Georgia, are spooked by the political climate, Fortin said. Increasingly, she’s being asked to explain how food stamps may impact immigration status, if not to outright cancel family food benefits.
Since mid-January, five of Fortin’s families have withdrawn from the SNAP program. One, the single mother of three citizen daughters, had fled to Georgia to escape an abusive husband. Another, two green-card holders with four young children, were thinking of taking on third jobs to compensate for the lost benefits. These families represent a small fraction of Fortin's caseload — she estimates she has signed 200 immigrant families up for SNAP over the past six months — but based on the calls she gets from other clients, she fears more cancellations are imminent.
“I get calls from concerned parents all the time: ‘should I take my kids out of the program?’” Fortin said. “They’re risking hunger out of fear … and my heart just breaks for them.”
“This is a response to the climate of fear and terror that immigrant families are living in because of the Trump administration,” said Jackie Vimo, a policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center.
Moreover, the rhetoric in Caitlin's article comes despite explicit guidance from the Department of Homeland Security that ICE officials not perform raids at any location where immigrants may be seeking food aid.
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed last month that its “sensitive locations memo” is still in place. That instructs ICE not to perform raids at hospital, schools, churches and other places where immigrant families, documented or not, might pick up food aid.
But there’s no doubt that the president’s priorities on immigration and public benefits differ sharply from those of his predecessor. Under President Trump, immigration raids have increasingly targeted non-criminals and taken place at traditionally safe locations, such as church shelters and schools. In late January, a draft executive order sought to reclassify receipt of public benefits, including SNAP, as a justification for deporting or denying citizenship to legal immigrants.
“We used to tell people that signing up does not make you a public charge,” said David Thomsen, a health policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza. “Now my advice would be, if you’re worried, talk to a lawyer.”
But perhaps the best part of Caitlin's story, buried deep in her article, is her own admission that the whole thing is just another 'fake news' narrative with some quotes from like-minded operatives with a political agenda:
"The evidence is still anecdotal — and The Washington Post was unable to speak directly with immigrants who chose to cancel their SNAP benefits."