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    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    Kansas slashes food aid for children of illegal immigrants

    State’s policy change eliminates food stamps for many U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants.

    By LAURA BAUER
    The Kansas City Star
    Posted on Sun, Jan. 22, 2012 12:10 AM


    A Kansas City, Kan., mother made her first visit to the Catholic Charities’ Wyandotte County Food Pantry last week. The family’s food stamps were recently reduced. She is in the process of gaining her citizenship. Her children are citizens.

    Pedro moved to the Kansas City area about 13 years ago and has held the same job for 11.

    Though he sometimes struggles to pay bills, he knows most people think he should receive no public aid. He’s an illegal immigrant. He doesn’t deserve handouts. He understands that.

    “I’ve never asked for anything for myself,” said Pedro, who didn’t want his last name used to protect his family. “Never. I just work. Work hard.”

    A new debate swirling around Kansas, though, isn’t about Pedro. It’s about two of his three children. They were born here, and one day they will have driver’s licenses and the right to vote, just like any other U.S. citizen.

    Early last year, when they needed food assistance, they got it. Pedro’s family received nearly $300 a month in food stamps. Enough to buy milk, eggs and meat, fruit and yogurt.

    Now, they get nothing. Neither do hundreds of other Kansas families who, like Pedro’s, are a mix of undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens.

    At a time when Gov. Sam Brownback has vowed to reduce child poverty, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services — a state agency the governor controls — made a policy change that eliminated food stamps for hundreds of low-income U.S. children whose parents are illegal immigrants. For more households, benefits were reduced.

    “I have to wonder if the governor is really on board with the policy,” said Sister Therese Bangert of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. “I wonder if he understands the ramifications of this policy, if he understands what’s happening to the children.”

    The governor’s office did not return several calls and email requests for comment.

    Since the change took effect Oct. 1, food pantries, churches and social service agencies throughout Kansas have been hearing from parents searching for answers and food for their children. Many said they had relied heavily on benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

    “We have families who really are desperate,” said Elena Morales of El Centro, an anti-poverty agency in Kansas City, Kan. “These food stamps were making a difference for families to be able to provide nutritional food for their children, or food at all. … This policy not only hurts these families, it hurts us, too, especially because we’re talking about U.S. citizen children.”

    By law, illegal immigrants are not eligible for food stamps. However, U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants can be.

    Children like the 5-year-old son of Isela, a woman who lives in Wyandotte County.

    She received a letter saying she would no longer get food stamps for her son. Initially she wondered why.

    “Then I came up with my own answer,” Isela said. “It’s because of my lack of status. My lack of papers.”

    When she received the notice, she was making $9 an hour and working an average of 38 hours a week with no benefits. Before the policy change, her son qualified for $121 a month in food stamps. That allowed her to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meat her son’s doctor said he needs.

    Now, without his food stamps, she worries she can’t afford high-quality, nutritious food for him.

    Under the new policy, SRS changed the way it counts household income when determining who is eligible for SNAP benefits. The formula now includes the entire income of all members of a household. Before the change, SRS counted only a portion if one or more members did not provide proof of legal U.S. residency.

    SRS officials say the policy change, which is allowed under federal guidelines, is fair. The old formula gave households with illegal immigrants more benefits than some households with all U.S. citizens, said Angela de Rocha, SRS director of communications.

    “Now, all households’ incomes are treated equally,” de Rocha said. “Prior to the policy change … U.S. citizens were being discriminated against.”


    But advocates, and those who have seen their food assistance cut, say the change is needlessly hurting families and could end up robbing U.S. children of the food they need to lead healthy lives.

    “The bottom line here is we have children who are going to bed hungry at night,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

    “These are U.S. citizens, and it should be no more cumbersome for them to access benefits than any other U.S. child.”

    Time of change

    Though SNAP is a federal program, it’s managed by the states. And states can choose how they calculate income when determining who qualifies for benefits.

    One option is counting the entire household income, which Kansas now does.

    Before the October change, the state did what Missouri and the vast majority of other states do: In households with ineligible members (including non-U.S. citizens), adjust the income for the reduced household size.

    Under the old system, when Pedro’s family applied for benefits for his two U.S. children about a year ago, he was making $1,600 a month.

    Kansas would use only a portion of that income (two-fifths, or $640) when determining whether the household was eligible for food stamps. (A family of five U.S. citizens earning $1,600 a month also would qualify.) Pedro said his daughters received $280 a month in food stamps.

    Under the new policy, SRS doesn’t adjust the household income to account for the three non-citizen member. So while SRS counts the family’s full $1,600 income, it calculates food stamp eligibility as if the two citizen children were the only people in the household. At that income level, Pedro says he was told they don’t qualify.

    Kansas is one of only four states opting to use this policy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The others are Arizona, Utah and Nebraska.

    “This is not a time, with this economy, when we should be withdrawing help from struggling families with children,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. “We have a demonstrated problem of food insecurity in this country and, in Kansas, this policy takes you further away from being able to solve the problem. It exacerbates the problem.”

    According to information provided by SRS, from Oct. 1 to the end of 2011, once incomes were recalculated using the new policy, benefits were eliminated for 1,042 households.

    SRS says it doesn’t know how many U.S. children living in those households no longer receive benefits.

    However, an SRS report shows that in the first month, from October to November, 2,066 children dropped from the food stamp rolls in Kansas.

    Not all of those children lost benefits because of the policy change on how income is counted, de Rocha said. She didn’t know how many did.

    “Some were, some weren’t,” she said. “…Families go on and off the program as their income changes.”

    Melinda Lewis, a public policy consultant for El Centro, has studied the new policy and has reviewed letters families have received from SRS. She understands the need to be fair but doesn’t think the change is.

    “We don’t want a policy that would put U.S. families at a disadvantage,” Lewis said. “So let’s find a solution. Put a cap on benefits so mixed-status families could never get more than a U.S. family.”

    In the fall, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas conducted an informal survey for clients it serves in the metropolitan area. The goal was to see how the SRS policy change was affecting families.

    At the Wyandotte County pantry, 87 families completed the form. Of those, 56 said their benefits had been reduced or canceled and they were relying more on community resources.

    Catholic Charities is still talking with families and gathering data on the impact of the new policy.

    “I don’t think there was an intent to harm a child,” said Jan Lewis, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. “I think there was a move to try to bring equity to the system. And they were trying to balance that out, I think.

    “One of our concerns is the pendulum may have swung a little too far the other way. I’m hopeful they will be open, when they see the data, to come in and make adjustments.”

    Worried for the kids

    Weeks before the change, several social service agencies in Kansas received phone calls from SRS workers who wanted them to know what was coming.

    Lydia Diebolt of Centro Hispano Resource Center started seeing families come into her Lawrence office in early November. Day after day, families brought in SRS letters stating their benefits had been cut significantly or canceled.

    Diebolt and other staffers explained the policy change and have tried to help connect the families to resources for food. But many pantries are only open during the day, when most of the parents are working. That leaves some with few options, she said.

    “They couldn’t understand that if their children were U.S. citizens, why they couldn’t get the benefits,” Diebolt said. “They weren’t angry with me, or with SRS — they were just worried for their kids. A lot of people said, ‘I don’t care about me, I wasn’t getting anything. I care about my kids.’ ”

    A female leader of the Latino community in Wyandotte County, who has raised her children and wasn’t affected by the SRS policy change, worried that families would be afraid, not understanding what was happening.

    With the help of staff at El Centro, she made a poster and placed it in her business.

    “I worry about my community,” said Maria, who didn’t want to give her full name because she’s living here illegally while waiting for a visa. “I want them to understand the change that happened, their rights, the laws.”

    More and more people came into her store to read the poster.

    “What I want them to be is informed,” Maria said. “To know about this information, know what’s going on. All the children have to have an opportunity in life.”

    Some advocates worry that bad information could seep through the immigrant community. In Dodge City, Debbie Snapp, executive director of Catholic Social Service, worries that families who haven’t gotten SNAP benefits before may shy away from the program, even though their children need the food.

    “Based on what they’ve heard from others, they think they won’t be eligible, so they’re not applying,” Snapp said.

    For years, advocates have worried about Latino children across the country getting the proper nutrition they need for healthy and productive lives. Of the roughly 16 million children nationwide who are considered food-insecure — meaning they often don’t have enough nutritious food — Latino children make up nearly 31 percent.

    One reason for the nutritional struggles, advocates say, is many low-income families eligible for federal food assistance won’t come forward. They worry about how they’ll be treated because they are living here illegally.

    “Agencies have made inroads with this,” said Tanya Broder, senior attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. Groups have reached out to families, letting them know their U.S. children can be eligible for public assistance.

    “... These kinds of policies, like the one in Kansas, undermine all of those efforts,” Broder said. “And they fuel the fears that immigrant families already have in seeking what they need.”

    Isela, the Wyandotte County mother, said she can’t help but think the state is trying to send a message to undocumented immigrants.

    “It’s like they are trying to fumigate us,” she said in her small and tidy living room. “Like they want us to (disappear).”

    Less food on the table

    That’s also how Carmen, a mom of three in Johnson County, feels. And she’s living and working in the United States legally.

    The mother of three — two of them U.S. citizens — came here illegally 11 years ago but now has protected status as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault.

    She was getting roughly $290 in food stamps for her two U.S. children. In early November, when she was down to just beans, eggs and tortillas, she headed to the grocery store. At the last minute she checked her card to make sure the SNAP benefit was there. It wasn’t.

    Carmen, who didn’t want her last name used to protect her family, went to the SRS office and said a worker told her, “Oh, yeah, we cut your benefits because you’re not a U.S. citizen.”

    She explained her situation: that she and her oldest child live here legally under her protected status and that her two younger children are U.S. citizens. She showed them her Social Security card and papers detailing her protected status.

    By the end of that meeting, she said, the worker told her they would get back to her in two weeks. It’s been two months, she said, and no word.

    “There’s less food on the table,” said Carmen, who since the termination of her food stamps is working seven days a week, as many as 12 hours a day. “It frustrates me a lot. … Sometimes I just have to decide, what are the priorities? If I don’t pay the utility bill, it’s going to be shut off. If I don’t pay the rent, they’ll evict me.

    “Whatever is left, I use for food. Sometimes it’s not a lot.”

    Some days, Carmen says, she has to hide food for later in the week. And when her children ask for seconds, she tells them no because “we have to save it for tomorrow.”

    “I have lost hope,” she says. “But I am wishing for justice, not just for me but other people in this situation. I know if I continue to work hard like I am working, I can feed my family.

    “But at what price?”

    Struggling to provide

    When Pedro’s middle child was born in the United States eight years ago, he knew she could be eligible for food assistance. But he was working, providing enough for his family.

    After another child was born here three years ago, he and his wife still didn’t need food stamps.

    “I knew I could provide enough,” he said.

    It wasn’t until his wife lost her job about a year ago that the family applied for and received SNAP benefits.

    When his boss gave him extra work on the weekends, he reported it to SRS, but nothing changed. A worker told him it shouldn’t affect the benefits.

    But in March, when he loaded up his grocery cart with food and went to pay, the money wasn’t on his benefits card. The family’s benefits had been cut. An SRS worker later told him that he was making too much money to get the benefits anymore.

    His family made do until October, when that extra weekend work stopped and he was back to making $1,600 a month.

    “When I went to reapply, they told me I no longer qualified,” he said, referring to the new policy.

    “They told me I made enough money to feed my children. That’s not true.”

    He now puts $50 a week aside for food to feed his family. When that’s not enough, he borrows from the rent money and the cash put aside for utilities.

    His eyes fill with tears when he talks about his struggle to provide for his family.

    “My family doesn’t know what I’m doing,” he said. “I try to eat at work (where his boss often provides meals and snacks) so I don’t take food away from my children at home. … The bills are coming in. Now I am getting letters on what they are going to cut off. I know every month it’s going to be worse.

    “But I ask myself, ‘What is better, my kids having food or paying the bills?’ ”

    To reach Laura Bauer, call 816-234-4944 or send email to lbauer@kcstar.com.


    Read more here: Kansas slashes food aid for children of illegal immigrants - KansasCity.com
    If a man sneaks into your home he is a burglar, not an undocumented tenant you must provide for!

  2. #2
    Senior Member nomas's Avatar
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    Boo Hoo Hoo... they ALL have jobs.

    “The bottom line here is we have children who are going to bed hungry at night,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
    What a load... let's look at what Mommy and Daddy are driving. Let's look at where they live. Mommy and Daddy had a family they couldn't afford, they got so used to living on the gravy train of free benefits... bet their kids all receive Medical benefits Americans are denied. I'm thrilled to see:
    “Now, all households’ incomes are treated equally,” de Rocha said. “Prior to the policy change … U.S. citizens were being discriminated against.”

  3. #3
    Super Moderator BetsyRoss's Avatar
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    The sense of entitlement is just amazing. It will be a hard habit to break.

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    Senior Member judyweller's Avatar
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    These people have all committed multiple crimes. Not only are they here illegally, they probably are using false papers to get jobs. Where is E-VERIFY when you need it. These firms should all be using E-Verify and firing these people. That spouse abusal visa is just a another cheap trick used by illegals to stay in the country. That visa should be abolished -- instead the Democrats are asking that the number of spouse abuse visas be increase.

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    Senior Member forest's Avatar
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    Now, all households’ incomes are treated equally,” de Rocha said. “Prior to the policy change … U.S. citizens were being discriminated against.”

    BINGO!

    Now if we could just stop the discrimination against US citizens and their children in health care subsidies, educational seats, jobs, amount of penalties handed down for criminal offenses... to name a few...
    As Aristotle said, “Tolerance and apathy are the first virtue of a dying civilization.â€

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    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    RELATED

    Kan. slashes food aid for illegal immigrants' kids

    Nebraskatv.com
    Posted: Jan 22, 2012 3:01 PM CST Updated: Jan 22, 2012 4:07 PM CST

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas welfare officials have eliminated or slashed food stamp benefits for hundreds of low-income, U.S.-born children whose parents are illegal immigrants.

    The cuts are the result of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services changing the way it counts household income when determining who is eligible for the food stamp program - now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

    The Kansas City Star (Kansas slashes food aid for children of illegal immigrants - KansasCity.com ) reported that families affected by the change are those that contain a mixture of legal citizens and illegal immigrants. While illegal immigrants are not eligible for the food assistance, U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants can be.

    The issue is that the formula now includes the entire income of all members of a household, but calculates food stamp eligibility as if the citizen children are the only people in the household. Previously, SRS counted only a portion if one or more members did not provide proof of legal U.S. residency.

    Since the change took effect Oct. 1, food pantries, churches and social service agencies have been inwith questions and requests for food.

    "We have families who really are desperate," said Elena Morales of El Centro, an anti-poverty agency in Kansas City, Kan. "These food stamps were making a difference for families to be able to provide nutritional food for their children, or food at all. . This policy not only hurts these families, it hurts us, too, especially because we're talking about U.S. citizen children."
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Kansas is 1 of only four states opting to use this policy. The others are Arizona, Utah and Nebraska.

    "This is not a time, with this economy, when we should be withdrawing help from struggling families with children," said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. "We have a demonstrated problem of food insecurity in this country and, in Kansas, this policy takes you further away from being able to solve the problem. It exacerbates the problem."

    SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said the old formula gave households with illegal immigrants more benefits than some households with all U.S. citizens.

    "Now, all households' incomes are treated equally," de Rocha said. "Prior to the policy change . U.S. citizens were being discriminated against."

    SRS data shows benefits were eliminated for 1,042 households from Oct. 1 to the end of 2011, once incomes were recalculated using the new policy. The agency doesn't know how many U.S. children living in those households no longer receive benefits.

    However, an SRS report shows that in the first month, from October to November, 2,066 children dropped from the food stamp rolls in Kansas.

    Not all of those children lost benefits because of the policy change on how income is counted, de Rocha said.
    "Some were, some weren't," she said. "... Families go on and off the program as their income changes."
    Melinda Lewis, a public policy consultant for El Centro who has studied the issue, understands the need to be fair but doesn't think the change is.

    "We don't want a policy that would put U.S. families at a disadvantage," Lewis said. "So let's find a solution. Put a cap on benefits so mixed-status families could never get more than a U.S. family."

    Source: Kan. slashes food aid for illegal immigrants' kids - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings
    U.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!

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    Super Moderator working4change's Avatar
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    The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. Plato

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