(WASHINGTON, D.C.)– Congressman Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) questioned Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) during today’s House Agriculture Committee hearing on migrants’ use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
As the Biden Administration plans to let Title 42 expire next month, millions more migrants are expected to flood the U.S. southern border. In an already fragile economy, Rep. DesJarlais worries that the cost to American taxpayers could become astronomical.
Today, the Tennessee congressman questioned USDA Deputy Under Secretary Dean on how much money allocated for SNAP benefits are going towards non-U.S. citizens to prepare for the 2023 Farm Bill.
“We need to know that first of all, we’re taking care of Americans first. We have programs to assist people whether they’re in other countries in terms of hunger, and I think that’s important. The U.S. should lead on that,” said DesJarlais. “I’m really proud of the SNAP program that we have in order to take care of the people that are hungry in the U.S.”
DesJarlais says that there are13 different categories under the SNAP program which make a non-citizen eligible immediately for benefits according to USDA. Most notably those under the age of 18 and Section 208 asylees.
“We have 1.1 million backlog of asylum seekers awaiting adjudication inside the U.S. we’re getting 300,000 I think just this last year—with Title 42 being lifted by the administration, which temporarily had been blocked, if this abandonment does come to fruition, I was wondering what your concerns would be to the strain on the program moving forward, and have you discussed lifting Title 42 with the White House? If so, what is the plan to assure that SNAP benefits will be preserved for the Americans that truly need it? And if not, why?” asked DesJarlais.
“No, I haven’t been involved in conversations with the White House on that issue,” said Dean.
Dean said that non-citizens face much more restrictive access eligibility rules than citizens. She did note that refugees have more immediate access to these benefits.
“I would argue right now that most people crossing the southern border have learned what to say,” stated the congressman. “They’re not saying we’re coming here because we felt like it, they’re coming here saying we’re seeking asylum.”
The deputy under secretary was unable to provide answers to Rep. DesJarlais’ question of how many non-U.S. citizens are currently using SNAP benefits.
In December 2021 DesJarlais introduced H.R.6153, the Common Sense Standards for Visa Applicants Act. The bill brings back a Trump-era policy, which Biden removed by executive order on day one in office, that does not allow those attempting to enter our country a visa if they will be a drain on the American taxpayer.
Full video of Rep. DesJarlais' questioning can be found here.