"Civil Rights" Group Endangers Food Stamp Eligibility for Its Own Alien Clients

By David North on February 16, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center may be endangering the Food Stamp eligibility of its own clients, probably children of illegal aliens.

SPLC is a vehement advocate of open borders. Its main lawyer complained vigorously that children (probably U.S.-born citizens), perhaps eligible for Food Stamps, had been questioned about the legal status of their parents (probably illegal aliens).

"Inquiries regarding the immigration status or Social Security Numbers of household members who are not themselves applicants for benefits raise serious concerns under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the federal Privacy Act," wrote Mary Bauer, SPLC Legal Director, according to a news article in the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser.

What Bauer apparently did not realize was that the Food Stamp program in her state, and in 45 others, is tilted towards children of illegal aliens; such children are more likely to qualify for Food Stamps, through a quirk in the program, than children of legal residents. And the only way that odd twist can actually bring benefits to individuals is if the agency handling Food Stamps knows that the parent is in the country illegally. So, by objecting to the question, Bauer endangered the applications of the children of the illegals.

In short, these kids would be far better off without the legal assistance of SPLC.

How could a federal benefits program tilt in favor of children of illegal aliens? The facts may be hard to believe, but here they are:

Food Stamps, appropriately, are means-tested; if you have too much income, you cannot get these benefits. But how is "income" defined by the feds? In mixed families, of legal and illegal residents, the total income for Food Stamps purposes is established by proportionately reducing the actual income of the household by the percentage of illegal aliens in it.

For example, if there is one person, probably a parent, who is illegal, and three others who are legal, the "income" for Food Stamp purposes is thus reduced by 25 percent; if there are two illegals and two legals, it is reduced by 50 percent. Thus, all else being equal, a mixed household can qualify for Food Stamps when an all-legal family of the same income cannot.

The question is: did Bauer ignore these facts, and thus sabotage the interests of these children of illegal aliens in her zeal to beat-up on the new Alabama immigration law? Or did she simply not know any better?

While I am not fond of SPLC's role in the immigration debate, I lean to the latter answer. The Food Stamp income-definition matter is pretty obscure, except for readers of my earlier blog on the subject. The government's posture in all but four states is nonsensical.

The four exceptions are Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah. In these states all income of everyone, legals and illegals, is counted as income for Food Stamp purposes.

The Montgomery Advertiser's reporter interviewed the Alabama welfare agency on the subject, and no one there – apparently – was aware of the tilt in the system toward the children of illegal aliens, so Bauer was not alone in her ignorance.