A new formula for calculating who receives food stamps in Kansas has left many U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants without aid. The change affects the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program administered individually by the states.
By law, illegal immigrants are not eligible for food stamps but their U.S.-born children are, according to The Kansas City Star. Previously, Kansas excluded illegal immigrants as members of the household in the formula but adjusted the family’s income proportionately. The new rule doesn’t adjust the income, so a family’s earnings are spread over fewer people in the calculation. This has lead many families to lose their food stamp eligibility.
Only three other states calculate eligibility in this way: Arizona, Utah and Nebraska.
“This is not a time, with this economy, when we should be withdrawing help from struggling families with children,” Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, told The Star. “We have a demonstrated problem of food insecurity in this country and, in Kansas, this policy takes you further away from being able to solve the problem. It exacerbates the problem.”
Benefits for more than 1,000 families were eliminated after the change in policy took effect Oct. 1, 2011, but the state agency in charge of running SNAP, the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, doesn’t know how many families with U.S.-citizen children were affected.
“These food stamps were making a difference for families to be able to provide nutritional food for their children, or food at all,” Elena Morales of El Centro, an anti-poverty agency in Kansas City, Kan., told The Star. “This policy not only hurts these families, it hurts us, too, especially because we’re talking about U.S. citizen children.”