Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas defended against suggestions that the administration is trying to weed out undocumented immigrants with a new Kansas policy that cuts food stamps benefits for anyone in the country illegally. A top official appeared before the House Appropriations Committee this week to state that the new food stamp policy only wants to balance out aid given to U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants.
Michelle Schroeder is the agency’s policy director. She told the committee that the new policy is intended to eliminator discriminatory elements of the old policy.
”We could have kept the previous policy,” Schroeder told the committee. We just thought it was better policy to equalize the way we treat income for all households.”
With the new formula, the state uses the entire income of all members of a household in determining eligibility. This poses a problem for households that do have members who are illegal immigrants. Before the change, the state counted only part of the members if they did not provide proof of U.S. residence.
While state officials maintain that the policy change is fair, others disagree and have vocalized into a campaign stating that the new bill only seeks to persecute families with immigrants. However, the old formula gave households with illegal immigrants on average the ability to earn $900 a month than U.S. citizens and receive food stamps.
Social service advocates continue to oppose the new policy because it will cut hundreds of children off from the benefits. State data shows that the benefits were cut off for 1,042 households once incomes were recalculated. Although Schroeder billed the policy change as one that focuses on income, not citizenship, some lawmakers have noted the repercussions only seem to be for illegal immigrants.
”The perception of many people has been that this is another way to go after the undocumented individuals in our state,” said Representative Barbara Ballard, a Lawrence Democrat. Ballard posed to Schroeder directly if that was the case. However Schroeder denied this claim. Ballard said that she wants equality for everyone, but she also wants more clarity about what’s motivating the administration for these new changes.
Until policymakers can come up with a better solution, this is the only one that Schroeder can see leveling the aid between U.S. citizen families and illegal immigrants. The possibility that undocumented income is being used to raise benefits, while U.S. citizens are receiving low amounts of aid, is a main problem for the lawmakers.