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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Food stamp fallacy an insult to Mexican Americans

    With Election Day fast approaching and presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s prospects looking dimmer by the hour, President Barack Obama’s critics have latched onto another cow of a conspiracy theory and are milking it for everything it’s worth — which isn’t much.

    Apparently, the Obama administration, in its attempt to bankrupt the nation and create the world’s largest welfare state, has been encouraging Mexican citizens to apply for food stamps in the United States. Hence, illegal immigrants are crossing the border with food stamps in hand, ready to buy up the first Safeway store they stumble across.

    This story, although outlandish, is in reference to the Mexico-U.S. Partnership for Nutrition Assistance, an initiative meant to curb hunger in America by partnering with the Mexican government to educate citizen and legal non-citizen immigrants from Mexico about the benefits of food stamps and other forms of nutrition assistance.

    The program made the leap from harmless nutrition education program to a cog in the Obama welfare state superstructure when conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh and others suggested that it was a mechanism for pressuring illegal immigrants to use the country’s food stamp rolls.

    That lie harkens back to an earlier and equally baseless claim that illegal immigrants were covered under the new health care law, a falsehood that spurred Rep. Joe Wilson into screaming, “You lie,” at the president during his annual State of the Union speech in 2009.

    Those who have been steering the bandwagon of misinformation regarding the Mexico-U.S. nutrition assistance partnership have conveniently overlooked the fact that the partnership was forged in 2004, during the second term of George W. Bush’s presidency.

    In fact, of the 151 meetings the U.S. Department of Agriculture has had with Mexican officials regarding the program, 121 of them took place under the watchful eyes of Bush administration officials.

    Moreover, the probability of illegal immigrants abusing the country’s food stamp rolls as a result of this program is slim to none. The partnership is aimed at informing eligible legal immigrants and legal non-citizens of nutrition assistance programs in the U.S.

    Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, are barred from participating in food stamp programs, and, like any other form of government assistance, states are required to determine whether applicants are legal citizens.

    The gross mischaracterization of this program is, of course, inexcusable, but what is more troubling is the fact that it is guided by the assumption that Mexican immigrants come to this country expecting to receive government hand-outs, when in reality the vast majority come with the intention of working hard and making something of themselves.

    Those who have been peddling this food stamp fallacy, the Sean Hannitys and Limbaughs of the world, have slighted Mexican immigrants and made fools of themselves in the process.

    Let’s hope there is a Mexican equivalent of a Joe Wilson out there, ready and willing to stand up and put the real liars in their place.

    — Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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