In October, Kansas became the fourth state to adopt a strict new policy for families of illegal immigrants to qualify for food stamps. We now know that after the first month, 2,066 fewer children were covered by the program. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services says not all these cases are a result of the new policy, but many are.
Illegal immigrants are not eligible for food stamps, but American-born children of illegal immigrants can be. In October, Governor Brownback instated a new equation to determine eligibility for food stamps for households that include members who cannot prove citizenship, saving the state $10 to $15 million.
Qualification in Kansas used to be calculated by dividing the household income by all residents, whether each member could provide proof of citizenship or not. That number was then multiplied by the number of citizens in the house. So, a monthly income of $2,000 for two parents who could not prove citizenship and two children born in the U.S. would be considered a monthly income of $1,000 for two people. As of October, it would be considered $2,000 for two people. This means that many families comprised of both non-citizen parents and American-born children have been made ineligible for food stamp benefits.
The three other states that have made this change are Arizon, Utah, and Nebraska.
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has said the old method "gives immigrant families an advantage over families in which all members are citizens." However, the new policy leaves immigrant families at a distinct disadvantage.
“To do anything that will eliminate children’s support in these times is so counterproductive," John Cook, associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine, told the Kansas City Star. "These are U.S. children who are going to be the backbone of our work force and communities in the future. These are not children who are going away. We can’t afford not to support them."
Governor Brownback has said this week that he would review the policy, though his office says no plans for change are underway.