Daily Caller Gins Up Outrage Over Years-Old Web Page On Benefits For Immigrants

››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN & EMILY ARROWOOD

The Daily Caller attempted to stoke anger about a Homeland Security Web page for new immigrants that provides information about government benefit programs, but buried at the end of its article the fact that the page was created in 2007. The Daily Caller also implied that immigrants abuse the U.S. social safety net, but there are strict eligibility requirements for social welfare programs, and most immigrant visa applicants must sign an affidavit stating they have adequate financial support.

Daily Caller Buries Fact That Welcome Materials For Immigrants Are Not New

Daily Caller: "DHS Launched The Web Page In 2007," And An Associated Immigrant Guidebook "Was Developed In 2004." A November 18 Daily Caller article, headlined "Homeland Security promotes welfare to new immigrants in government 'welcome' materials," describes a website hosted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) called WelcometoUSA.gov. One page on the site provides information about government benefit programs. In its 27-paragraph article, the Daily Caller waited until the 25th paragraph to acknowledge that the "DHS launched the Web page in 2007" and that an associated USCIS guidebook was developed in 2004. [Daily Caller, 11/18/12]

Daily Caller Suggests Gov't. Has "Open-Door Policy On Immigrant Welfare" ...

Daily Caller: Sen. Sessions "Has Taken A Hard Line Against The Federal Government's Current Open-Door Policy On Immigrant Welfare." The article stated, "Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, has taken a hard line against the federal government's current open-door policy on immigrant welfare and believes DHS should take the Web page down." [Daily Caller, 11/18/12]

... But There Are Stringent Eligibility Requirements For Social Safety Net Programs

CBPP: Most Immigrants Are Barred From Receiving Federal Welfare Dollars For First Five Years Of Residency. A document from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the eligibility requirements for Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF) program, which replaced cash welfare benefits in 1996. The CBPP says, "An exception to the broad flexibility that states generally have to establish TANF eligibility rules is that federal law bars states from using federal TANF dollars to assist most legal immigrants until they have been in the U.S. for at least five years. This restriction applies not only to income assistance, but also to TANF-funded work supports and services such as child care, transportation, and job training. A significant percentage of poor children have non-citizen parents who are ineligible for TANF benefits and services." The CBPP goes on to note that while states can use their own funds to provide benefits to recent immigrants, fewer than half do. [CBPP.org, 7/6/11]

To Receive Food Stamps, Immigrants Must Have Lived In U.S. For Five Years, Be Receiving Disability Assistance, Or Be Children Or Refugees. The website for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps, notes that immigrants must meet eligibility requirements to qualify:

The 2002 Farm Bill restores SNAP eligibility to most legal immigrants that:

  • Have lived in the country for 5 years; or
  • Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits, regardless of entry; or
  • Starting 10-1-03, are children regardless of entry date.

Certain non-citizens such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence are also eligible for the program. Eligible household members can get SNAP benefits even if there are other members of the household that are not eligible.

[...]

Non-citizens that are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students, are not eligible. [USDA.gov, accessed 11/19/12]

To Receive Social Security Disability Benefits, Immigrants Must Be In A "Qualified Alien Category" And Meet Other Eligibility Rules. The Social Security Administration says that to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), most aliens must "be in a qualified alien category" and "meet a condition that allows qualified aliens to get SSI." Qualified categories listed include those who are "Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the U.S.," immigrants who have been granted asylum, or those who are refugees. General requirements also note that those who are eligible have "limited income" and "limited resources." [SocialSecurity.gov, accessed 11/19/12, accessed 11/19/12]

Daily Caller Pushes Suggestion That Gov't. Is Indifferent To Immigrants Being "Self-Sufficient" ...

Daily Caller: Sen. Sessions "Noted There Is Little Enforcement Of Regulations That Would Ensure New Immigrants Are Self-Sufficient." The article stated, "Sessions noted that there is little enforcement of regulations that would ensure new immigrants are self-sufficient." [Daily Caller, 11/18/12]

Daily Caller Pushes Anonymous Claim That Government "Is Providing Immigrants Visas With The Expectation That They Will Avail Themselves Of Government Assistance." The article also cited an anonymous Republican Budget Committee staffer claiming that "the government is providing immigrants visas with the expectation that they will avail themselves of government assistance." [Daily Caller, 11/18/12]

... But Visa Applications Are Denied Due To "Dependency Risk" ...

Daily Caller: In 2011, 7,069 Visa Applicants Were "Denied Due To A Dependency Risk." The Daily Caller article noted: "In fiscal year 2011, 0.068 percent of visa applications -- 7,069 out of 10.37 million immigrant and non-immigrant applications processed by the State Department -- were denied due to a dependency risk." [Daily Caller, 11/18/12]

... And Most Visa Applicants Must Sign Affidavit Stating They Have Adequate Financial Support

Most Applicants For U.S. Immigration Visas Sign Affidavit Of Support To Ensure Each Applicant "Is Unlikely To Become A Public Charge After Entering The US." According to the State Department website on visas, "An Affidavit of Support form is required for most family-based and some employment based immigrants to show there is adequate means of financial support in the U.S., by the petitioner or other sponsor(s) for the immigrant." The website explains that the Affidavit of Support "is a legal contract between you (the petitioner for an immigrant visa applicant) and the US Government. It ensures that the visa applicant has adequate means of financial support and is unlikely to become a public charge after entering the US." [State.gov, accessed 11/19/12 and 11/19/12]

Right-Wing Media Run With Daily Caller's Misleading Article

Hannity: U.S. Is "$18 Trillion In The Hole, And The Administration Is Advertising For New Immigrants To Go On Welfare." On his radio program, Sean Hannity read from the Daily Caller article and then stated, "The federal government is $18 trillion in the hole, and the administration is advertising for new immigrants to go on welfare, which will drive the debt even higher. Now, at some point, somebody's -- this is where America is making a wrong turn." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/19/12]

Limbaugh: "These Are Newly Arrived Immigrants We're Talking About." On his November 19 radio show, Rush Limbaugh read from the Daily Caller article for several minutes and said that "these are newly arrived immigrants we're talking about here." Limbaugh then suggested that the existence of WelcomeToUSA.gov supported his theory that President Obama won re-election because he, like Santa Claus, gave things away to people. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/19/12 and 11/7/12, via Media Matters]

Drudge: " 'Homeland Security' Promotes Welfare To New Immigrants In Government 'Welcome' Materials" On November 19, the Drudge Report directed viewers to the Daily Caller story with a link reading, " 'Homeland Security' promotes welfare to new immigrants in government 'welcome' materials":

[Drudge Report Archives, 11/19/12]

Fox Nation: "Homeland Security Promotes Welfare To New Immigrants." Fox Nation also hyped the Daily Caller story on November 19:

[Fox Nation, 11/19/12]

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