Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is outright promoting welfare benefits in the “welcome” packets issued to new immigrants and the U.S. Border Security Council aims to stop it.
The “Welcome to USA.gov” website is considered the first stop for new immigrants to find out basic information about life in the United States. This site now features an eye-catching new section for new immigrants on how they can take advantage of federal government benefits.
“Depending on your immigration status, length of time in the United States, and income, you may be eligible for some federal benefit programs,” the webpage states. “Government assistance programs can be critically important to the well-being of some immigrants and their families. Frequently, however, there is a lack of information about how to access such benefits. Benefit programs can be complicated and you may be given misleading information about how they operate.”
The webpage also directs visitors to other government websites that explain how to access benefits including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), among others.
The “Welcome to USA.gov” website also crows to immigrants that “[f]ree public education for children is one reason many immigrants come to the United States.”
“The Obama Administration is literally marketing welfare benefits to illegal aliens,” exclaims Council National Spokesman Steve LeBlanc. “This has to be stopped and we are going to take the lead on this issue.”
Ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), told The Daily Caller that DHS should take the webpage off-line to discourage immigrants from participating in “benefit programs that they are not lawfully entitled to.”
A Republican Budget Committee staffer wrote that the issue is not only the offering of welfare benefits without eligibility, but also the fact that the government is providing immigrants visas with the expectation that they will avail themselves of government assistance. “One of the important points about the legal problems with the DHS site and materials is not only the issue of immigrant eligibility, but the fact that U.S. immigration officials are obviously granting visas to those they believe will and should be receiving government assistance,” the staffer wrote in an email to The Daily Caller. “Immigration law is supposed to operate so that individuals at risk for being placed on public assistance are not admitted in the first place.”
“The fact of the matter is this: in fiscal year 2011, only 7,069 out of 10.37 million immigrant and non-immigrant applications processed by the State Department — were denied due to a dependency risk. That is a less than 0.068 percent denial rate,” said LeBlanc. “It would seem that there is not a rigorous review of immigrants if more than 99% pass the litmus dependency test.”
This fall, Sen. Sessions was joined by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ranking Members of the Senate Judiciary, Finance, and Agriculture Committees, respectively, in publicly chiding Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the failure of DHS to respond to an oversight request for information on visa applications.
“Historically, the nation has understood that people who come to the country should not be dependent on the state,” said Sen. Session. “And if you could not show that you were going to be independent, then you didn’t get admitted.”
Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act explains that immigrants are “inadmissible” to the United States if the U.S. Attorney General or any consular officer who interacts with them determines that he or she “is likely at any time to become a public charge.”
In a separate interview with The Daily Caller, USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley went on record stating that Homeland Security does not keep data on how many people are rejected because they may become public charges and that becoming a public charge is not reason enough to deport a permanent non-citizen resident.
“We are going to push the Congress to rein in all this nonsense,” LeBlanc promises. Immigration officials should keep out the people who are coming to the U.S. simply to avail themselves of welfare benefits.”