Archive for Monday, January 30, 2012

Kansas official defends food stamp policy as fair

January 30, 2012, 10:22 a.m. Updated January 31, 2012, 12:09 a.m.


— A top Kansas social services official argued Monday that a new policy reducing or denying food stamps to hundreds of U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants is fairer to tens of thousands of other families, and some Republican legislators said they agreed with the change.

Michelle Schroeder, public policy director for the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, also told the House Appropriations Committee that the change, introduced by her agency Oct. 1, was permitted under federal regulations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the food stamp program, though states administer it.

The change affects how household incomes are calculated to determine eligibility for the food stamps program, now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Previously, Kansas, like most other states, discounted a portion of a family’s income if some of its members couldn’t prove they were in the U.S. legally.

SRS calculates that 1,042 households with illegal immigrant family members have lost benefits since Oct. 1, affecting 2,066 U.S-born children, although the agency couldn’t say how many lost their food stamps specifically because of the policy change. Advocates for immigrants and the poor have been critical, and Democrats pushed the Appropriations Committee to seek explanations from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration.

Schroeder said households with illegal immigrants on average were allowed to earn an additional $908 a month income and still qualify for food stamps — putting them ahead of 106,000 households with no illegal immigrants that didn’t qualify. About 141,000 households now receive SNAP benefits.

“We just felt it inherently unfair that U.S. citizens were held to a higher standard,” Schroeder said. “We wanted to move to a system that was equal.”

Schroeder said only Arizona, Nebraska and Utah have the same income-calculation policy as Kansas.

Some legislators have suggested SRS could have modified the old policy without costing some children their food stamps, but Schroeder said federal rules essentially gave Kansas only two choices, keeping the old policy or imposing the one that took effect in October.

Under the old policy, if a household had two working parents who couldn’t show they were in the U.S. legally and two U.S.-born children, SRS counted only half the parents’ income in determining eligibility. As a result, SRS officials said, families with illegal immigrants could qualify more easily for SNAP benefits than families with no illegal immigrants.

The new Kansas policy made sense to some Republicans, who control the committee and the Legislature.

“To me, this is a fairness issue, and I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican.

Schroeder said SRS officials are looking at whether they can use another USDA program that provides food to food banks and other charities to increase supplies for the communities most affected by the change in the food stamp policy.

Critics of the policy were not satisfied. Several Democrats said they want legislators to further review the issue, and Rep. Barbara Ballard, a Lawrence Democrat, wondered whether the change violated federal civil rights law, a suggestion Schroeder said was unfounded.

And Rep. Jerry Henry, a Cummings Democrat, said: “I think we’ve seen that there are some families struggling with this new policy.”

Several critics also noted that the state Department of Agriculture is seeking a waiver from federal officials so that agricultural businesses can hire illegal immigrants to fill jobs that remain unfilled.

“Immigrant labor is integral to Kansas business right now,” said Sister Therese Bangert, a lobbyist for the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. “I would hope that we would always err on the side of feeding children that are hungry and for them to have food security.”


Brock Masters 6 years, 2 months ago

Tough issue. Illegal or American, children shouldn't suffer. But illegal immigrants should not receive any US benefits. The question is how to deny the illegal immigrants access to the benefits without harming the children? Doesn't sound like this is the right approach.

It is interesting to note how people, even educated ones, fail to grasp the difference between legal and illegal immigrants. While it may be true that immigrant labor is important to Kansas business, illegal immigration, regardless of the end result, is illegal and should not be ignored, condoned or tolerated.

repaste 6 years, 2 months ago

If i was hungry, my child was hungry I would hold them out to get free stuff before I would let them go hungry. A person who sucks it up and does what they need to care for their family is often a person I would welcome as a neighbor.

deec 6 years, 2 months ago

If my children were hungry, I would walk 3000 miles to work in a dangerous job where I could be arrested at any minute for working. You know, be an illegal immigrant.,

mloburgio 6 years, 2 months ago



Before you come up with your stupid solution . . . Remember that NOBODY wants those jobs. And we're not "canceling all entitlement programs" because if we did poor people of all races would show up at your house looking for lunch and it wouldn't be pretty.

Here's a headline and today's reason for comprehensive immigration reform beyond clueless GOP finger-wagging:

Kansas agriculture secretary seeks federal waiver for illegal immigrants

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

The blame lies squarely at the feet who put us in a no win position.
Children born here are American citizens and if there is a need, they should be provided for. However, if there is an illegal immigrant in the same household, that person is the responsibility of their country of origin. Shame on those who make it harder for us to determine into which category individuals belong.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

There's plenty of "tough" in your post, but no love that I can see.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 2 months ago

"If you get welfare you should also take a monthly drug test." === Another red herring. Some states have done this, but found the rates of use were so low the program was not worth the money. Would you apply the same standards to others on "welfare, " for example stock brokers and farmers and politicians?

Alceste 6 years, 2 months ago

The SNAP (foodstamps) is not a welfare program. It's a food supplement program and always has been. Foodstamps were never designed to be the only source of food for's a supplement and it's right.

Beside all of the above, SNAP, foodstamps....whatever you want to call them is not a program established to feed or supplement any body OTHER than fat cats in AgriBusiness who pull down the REAL money that the USDA doles out to WELFARE recipients.....aka FARMERS. and that's a fact, Jack.....

If SNAP were to stop right this second do you think poor people wouldn't find a method to eat? The group that would howl in pain are the WELFARE recipients: Those who receive price supports, subsidies, crop insurance, etc., from the USDA. Truer words have not been spoken.....or written....

deec 6 years, 2 months ago

Don't forget the howls from taxpayers when their taxes go up to fund the drug testing and privatized adoption services use. And the screeches when food prices rise dramatically,

deec 6 years, 2 months ago

Funding for what? The drug tests? AT $7-$35 a pop x 141,000 households, that's almost a million a month, with the lowest priced test. If you test all household members monthly, which seems to be what is being suggested, that number will rise considerably. 300,000 people get food benefits in Ks. How will you obtain urine samples from babies? Squeeze out a diaper? And tens of thousands will not leave Ks. This article points out the changes made harmed a little over a thousand households. Also the Florida drug testing for application law has not been put into use because a Federal judge found it violated the 4th amendment. Ohio withdrew a bill pending when it was amended to include all legislators,

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow, you'll go to great lengths to concoct a rationale (and dubious benefits) for your xenophobia-driven pettiness.

Alceste 6 years, 2 months ago

and....Phoenixman.....that "...getting welfare...." stuff applies to the corporate welfare handed out in BIG CHUNKS by the USDA to a rather motley crew. I know you'll support banning these fat cats from the casinos and making certain they're drug tested as well; right?

Also, I know you'll support drug testing of those people who administer these give away programs....from the Gov. down to his minions in Cedar Crest; over to SRS Central Office and clear down to the social workers who'll be destroying those families and those childrens' lives by removing the children and the SRS staff who process the applications and manage the cases of those receiving assistance and there boss people as well. I know you'll support drug testing those people, too; right?

Alceste 6 years, 2 months ago

There is NO pre-employment drug testing for state of Kansas workers EXCEPT Dept. of Corrections hires. NONE. ZERO. NADA.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Yea, pitting hungry kids against hungry kids is purely a matter of "fairness." (in the petty world of Brownbackistan, that is.)

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Food Stamps bring federal tax dollars home and feed people. One of the better uses of our federal tax dollars.

Remember in the past 31 years what action has transpired ONLY under republican administrations?

Twice the nation has been put through monster job losses. Both times as a result of fraudulent home loan schemes which between the two an estimated 20 million jobs have been lost and millions put out of their homes.

Where did the employers go? Out of the USA under the umbrella of the global economy in which USA jobs have been among the largest number of export items.

Republicans know best about what? Where are the economic giants of our time?

William Weissbeck 6 years, 2 months ago

And to think just yesterday in the paper, the Kansas Agriculture Secretary was appealing to the Obama Admin for a waiver to allow MORE illegal immigrants into Kansas because they are desperately needed to work the fields and pick the crops. The GOP "flat earthers" strike again.

Mzz Meehwitdatmess 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't think it is fair, but if they are both working then why wouldn't they be able to provide for their children as many of us U.S. born citizens have. I believe if they are able to provide shelter and nicer rides then the rest of the community and have a number of people help split the cost of living then they do have enough in their pockets to provide for their children. They know what they are doing and they understand the system, but no child should go hungry. They can provide. The law made them an exception.

Alceste 6 years, 2 months ago

Bear in mind the reality Michelle Schroeder is another bought and paid for semi-professional Republican flunky, who, unemployed, was given a do nothing save bob your head job with Brownback and Company.

Michelle Schroeder had been a hack working with "Rep." Ryun and later, I do believe with Tiahrt. It's my understanding, given her Kansas roots, her concept of art, like so many others' from this fine state centers around 3.2 beer and cow tipping. I could be wrong....but I think not...... Certainly a most flattering picture of the uber stateswoman may be viewed here:

repete66211 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't see a problem here. Children of illegals still qualify for food stamps. But rather than receiving unearned credit the income threshholds are the same regardless of immigrant status. That is the definition of fairness isn't it--treating two people equally?

There shouldn't be any illegal immigrants in Kansas or any of the other states, but non-American workers should be allowed into the country via work visa programs (i.e. H-1B).

lawrence267 6 years, 2 months ago

This doesn't seem like a tough issue at all. They're just holding everyone to the same standards. The policy seemed unfair before, not now.

avoice 6 years, 2 months ago

Put all the emotion aside. Do we believe that everyone should have EQUAL opportunity, whether for jobs, healthcare, or assistance with food and shelter? If we believe in a level playing field, then this change levels the playing field. Period. The families -- children -- who will lose benefits through this are no more or less deserving than families -- children -- who have equal income and have been unable to access these benefits. Period.

Jayhawk1958 6 years, 2 months ago

The main goal of the Chamber of Commerce is to put the American worker out of business.

Kim Murphree 6 years, 2 months ago

Another war on the poor---and this time, the children of the poor. For crying out loud, its not really the poor that are taking from you...if you want to look for the $$$ that you are missing, look UP not down the economic ladder. One welfare check to the gas and oil industry would feed the whole State of Kansas for years to come.

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