Q&A – How Illegal Immigrants Obtain Government Benefits

Today’s question was submitted via email.

Why hasn't any investigative reporter done a story on what happens after illegals get into the country? How do they find housing, food, schooling, medical care, transportation,etc.We have over 300,000 people sneaking into this country every year, what happens to them, where do they go, how do they find employment?

Bottom Line:At my most cynical, I would suggest something you have probably heard me say. If one’s first act in the US is to break the law, by virtue of being here illegally, why should we expect them to respect our laws once they are here? In Florida, we have the 4th most abuse of these programs by non-citizens and the estimated annual abuse is $26.8 billion nationally. 

Twenty-six states enable undocumented individuals to obtain government assistance programs, Florida isn’t one of them. What’s more is that twenty of those states and D.C. have gone so far as to take federal assistance money, along with state resources, and recalibrate it under newly created state-run assistance programs. This enables them to do an end-around on the federal mandates for eligibility that would exclude those not here legally. In other words, maybe an illegal immigrant can’t directly apply for SNAP, but in California, they administer the “CalFreshFood Assistance Program” which is essentially the same thing enabled for illegal immigrant access in the state. Here’s the breakdown of what’s available to illegal immigrants through this process:

  • Financial assistance: 23 states
  • Healthcare coverage 11 states 
  • Disability coverage 5 states
  • Food assistance 5 states

That should help answer most of your questions but much of what isn’t explained there comes up through child-birth. This is how illegal immigrants in states like Florida, which don’t have state policies enabling assistance for illegal immigrants, most commonly obtain them. According to CIS data, approximately 297,000 births of illegal immigrants happen annually in the US and 16,000 children of illegal immigrants are born in Florida annually.

Under existing law, children born of illegal immigrants are US citizens. That makes them legally eligible for a host of federal assistance programs. Naturally, that assistance goes to the parent(s) of the child and voila. Other less common ways it happens include those who entered legally, obtained government assistance while here legally, lost status but continue on programs after they lost status. You also have cases of assumed/stolen ID/false ID’s. 

Putting it all together, you see how messy federal and state assistance is and how much opportunity there is for abuse and manipulation. This is widely known in South and Central American countries. Not only do I believe that we need better enforcement of immigration policy, immigration reform and the physical barriers called for at our southern border. But, we need welfare reforms to stop the abuse of American taxpayers. This also would help disincentivize illegal immigrants from entering the US. This country became the world’s leading super power through limited government, opportunity and hard work. Not through welfare. There’s a vast difference between limited safety nets for Americans in need and the welfare state we’ve created for Americans and illegal immigrants alike. Welfare isn’t compassion. Opportunity through freedom and the rule of law is compassionate.

Submit your questions using one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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