June 8, 2017

AP Frets That Children of Illegal Immigrants Aren’t Getting Food Stamps

During Barack Obama’s presidency, we were constantly assured by the administration and its press apparatchiks that deportations had greatly increased during his tenure. So it’s more than a little strange that the Associated Press is now worried that because of President Donald Trump’s alleged “crackdown on illegal immigration,” fewer people who are genuinely eligible for “federal food assistance” are opting out “because of the perceived risk,” which turns out to be totally bogus, that parents and guardians of eligible children and dependents will be deported.

The “deportations are up” meme was on prominent display throughout the Obama administration.

In one of the latest such claims, in a presidential campaign “fact check” in October, the AP itself wrote that “The administration set a record in 2014 when more than 409,000 people were sent home.”

Supporting that meme, open-borders activists made a frequent show of protesting the Obama administration’s increase in reported deportations at every available opportunity. That same AP fact check noted that “Obama has been dubbed ‘the deporter in chief’ by immigration advocates and opponents of his immigration enforcement policies.”

Many readers will surely argue that the administration was able to make its deportation claims because it played with the definition of the term. They are absolutely correct.

In a rare acknowledgment apparently intended to keep immigration activists at bay, an April 2014 Los Angeles Times story noted what had happened:

Expulsions of people who are settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since his (Obama’s) first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009.

On the other side of the ledger, the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up — primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s deportation statistics.

The vast majority of those border crossers would not have been treated as formal deportations under most previous administrations. If all removals were tallied, the total sent back to Mexico each year would have been far higher under those previous administrations than it is now.

The shift in who gets tallied helped the administration look tough in its early years but now may be backfiring politically.

Some leftists are still bitter about Obama’s deportations legacy. In February, Alternet writer Sarah Lazare bemoaned “Obama’s lethal deportation machine,” and contended that “Trump’s anti-immigration measures are intense, but nothing new” using harsh language:

… Sweeps and forced expulsions of children would not constitute a break with norms of his (Obama’s) own administration, which oversaw more deportations than any other in U.S. history. During Obama’s tenure, mass incarceration of mothers and their children became a mainstay of the U.S. response to the violent displacement of peoples across Central America. And amid the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, Obama has greatly expanded the deportation machine …

Consistent with the “nothing new” Alternet claimed, Vice.com reported in early April that “Trump is deporting more people than Obama, but just barely.”

None of this stopped AP reporters Claudia Torrens and Gisela Salomon from claiming on Tuesday that the Trump administration is engaging in a “crackdown”:

Fear of deportation drives people off food stamps in US

A crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump has driven some poor people to take a drastic step: opt out of federal food assistance because they are fearful of deportation, activists and immigrants say.

People who are not legal residents of the U.S. are not eligible to take part in what is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

But many poor families include a mix of non-legal residents and legal ones, such as children who have citizenship because they were born in the U.S. In those cases, it is often an adult who is not a legal resident who submits the application.

Some now feel that is too dangerous under a president who has made immigration enforcement a priority. Throughout the U.S., there are accounts of people resisting efforts of nonprofit organizations to sign them up for food stamps, letting benefits lapse or withdrawing from the program because of the perceived risk.

As has so often been the case with stories such as these, the AP primarily relied on people working with charities and advocacy groups for direct quotes.

In this case, unlike in other similar reports, the AP at least claimed to have found two people affected:

A 52-year-old woman interviewed in New York City, a Mexican in the country illegally, told The Associated Press she was motivated in January to drop a benefit that was supporting her teenage daughter, a U.S. citizen, purely because she was afraid of being in the food stamp system, which requires applicants to state their immigration status. (Note: This is arguably misleading language, as “applicants” are the recipients and not the parent or guardian filling out the application, which does NOT require the parent or guardian to reveal THEIR immigration status. — Ed.)

A Honduran immigrant and single mother with one child in Silver Spring, Maryland, decided not to renew the food stamps she received when they expired in January. “We fear deportation,” said the 29-year-old immigrant, who also spoke on condition of anonymity …

Each former recipient was introduced to AP through nonprofit groups. If these two are the only ones to whom AP spoke, it naturally leads one to question if large numbers of people “throughout the U.S.” are really being affected. But that didn’t stop the two AP reporters from claiming that’s the case, even though the government insists that applying or even getting caught illegally receiving SNAP benefits, based on the language seen below, will not in and of itself lead to deportation:

About 3.9 million citizen children living with noncitizen parents received food stamps in the 2015 fiscal year, the most recent available data, according to the Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program.

… “It is important for non-citizens to know they will not be deported, denied entry to the country, or denied permanent status because they apply for or receive SNAP benefits,” the agency says on its website.

… Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nearly 40 percent more people suspected of being in the country illegally in the first 100 days under Trump than in the same period a year earlier. The agency said nearly 75 percent of them had been convicted of criminal offenses but “non-criminal arrests” were up by more than 150 percent.

Immigrant advocates see the aversion to food stamps as a reflection of a climate of fear that drives people in the country illegally deeper underground …

John Hinderaker at Powerline has posted extensively from the government’s detailed guidance in this area. That guidance, in his words, “makes it very clear that an illegal immigrant can apply for food stamps on behalf of an eligible person … without divulging anything about immigration status.”

Hinderaker contends that “It is hard to see how the federal government could make it any clearer, or what, exactly, the AP is complaining about.” Well, there’s an agenda behind AP’s complaints, and I’ll get to that.

Using terminology referenced earlier, the statistics AP is citing appear to relate to “Expulsions of people who are settled and working in the U.S.” and not recent border crossers. But there’s a catch which AP didn’t disclose, namely that, as Boston’s WBUR reported at the end of May, “some of the enforcement patterns we’re seeing now began well before Trump’s executive orders,” and “are a continuation of the trajectory that we were already on under the Obama administration.” 

Summarizing matters, the AP built a story based on the unjustified fears of two people designed to fan the “climate of fear” about imminent deportation among all illegal immigrants.

One can’t help but conclude that even if some eligible children go hungry or are undernourished as a result of their parents or guardians opting out of SNAP despite the lack of any legitimate reason to do so, AP reporters Torres and Salomon consider it a small price to pay for the larger agenda of irresponsibly feeding paranoia about the Trump administration.

I thought left-leaning journalists were supposed to have compassion. I guess not.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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1 Comment

  1. I would be supporting the AP narrative for the mere fact that such misleading reporting is getting illegals to reconsider staying in the US. So in effect they are actually helping Trump trim the SNAP rolls by scaring off illegals. That is a good thing, we the long suffering tax payers demand relief and I don’t care if we are viewed as being cruel, heartless or mean.

    It is cruel, heartless and mean to indebt the next generations with the national debt as all of this is being financed not actually paid for. BTW- when I say financed I mean the incremental devaluation of the Dollar through inflation caused by their expanding the de facto currency. De facto currency is the pseudo Dollars created by bonds. Bonds are nothing more than Dollar bills with interest.

    Comment by dscott — June 9, 2017 @ 11:04 am

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