By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery announced in a written statement that the House Agriculture Committee had approved a five-year farm and nutrition bill which included an amendment, offered by Representative Martha Roby, preventing illegal aliens from using fraudulent means to collect federally subsidized food stamps.
Congresswoman Roby said, “Currently, state agencies merely accept applicants’ declarations of U.S. citizenship at face value. This encourages fraudulent practices, such that applicants here illegally are providing false social security numbers and receiving government issued benefits. Fixing this problem is one of many steps that we must take to address our illegal immigration problem and restore lawfulness to our immigration system.”
Rep. Roby continued, “Under my amendment, state agencies must verify applicants’ status using SAVE or another verification program to ensure that recipients of these benefits go to legal U.S. residents. The amendment would result in government savings while ensuring that only qualified applicants receive necessary benefits.”
“Taking three to five seconds to verify the eligibility of an applicant could reduce the instances of improper SNAP payments. By requiring electronic verification of immigration status, state agencies will be less likely to improperly issue SNAP benefits to individuals that are not lawfully in the country,” said Rep. Roby.
Congresswoman Roby’s amendment would require that states use E-Verify-like systems to validate applicants’ citizenship status and thus their eligibility to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Rep. Roby said that verification systems, such as one called the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE), would electronically check employment and income records to ensure that adults receiving federal benefits are legal U.S. residents.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the amendment would result in significant savings for U.S. taxpayers. Roby’s amendment passed the Committee with strong bi-partisan support.
To get SNAP benefits you must either be a U.S. citizen or an eligible alien (have legal residency); but the government does not require that applicants actually provide proof of their citizenship. The Office of the Inspector General of the USDA found 8,594 persons collecting SNAP benefits illegally just by sampling five states.
Rep. Roby said, “Benefits funded by American taxpayers should go to American citizens. It is reasonable to require that an individual be a U.S. citizen or an eligible applicant in order to receive federal benefits. “Under my amendment, state agencies must verify applicants’ status using SAVE or another verification program to ensure that recipients of these benefits go to legal U.S. residents. The amendment would result in government savings while ensuring that only qualified applicants receive necessary benefits.”
H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (FARRM), cleared the House Agriculture Committee this morning by a vote of 35-11.