Why Are We Bribing Welfare Recipients to Come to the US?

For more than a century, the law has been that any application for a visa to enter the United States must be denied if the applicant is likely to become a “public charge” on the American people. (“An alien who…is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.”) Yet the Obama administration has not only ignored this aspect of our immigration laws, it has actively recruited immigrants who have no means of support, deliberately enticing them with offers of generous welfare benefits. Of all of the many scandals of the scandal-ridden Obama administration, this particular lawlessness is, in my opinion, one of the worst.

For some reason, Jeff Sessions finds himself in the forefront of just about every major issue in Washington these days. Here, too, he has led the effort to expose the administration’s misdeeds. Sessions discussed the issue on Fox News this morning:


There are problems throughout the [immigration] system. It’s a dysfunctional system. For instance, we just got confirmed a few days ago that virtually no one is being examined before they enter the county on whether or not they are will become a public charge, that is whether they will immediately begin to depend on government welfare. The law has been, for a hundred years, you should not be admitted to the United States if you’re immediately going to go on the dole and need government assistance. So that is a real serious problem, and we find they are not enforcing it whatsoever. Any reform of immigration has got to end that. We’ve got plenty of people quite capable of taking care of themselves financially being denied admission to our country, so this is just one of the problems that has got to be fixed.

In August of last year, Sessions and other Republican senators requested information from the Obama administration about its practices in regard to admitting aliens who are likely to be dependent on welfare. After six months the administration finally responded to Sessions, admitting among other things that in 2012, not a single visa applicant was denied on the ground that he or she was likely to become a public charge.

On the contrary, the Obama administration is actively recruiting indigent foreigners to come to the United States to receive welfare benefits. Its Welcome to USA.gov page is largely about the welfare benefits that new immigrants can receive. The administration has even partnered with the government of Mexico to advertise the availability of food stamps to Mexican immigrants (including, although this is not officially stated, illegals). In part because of the Obama administration’s recruitment, the number of non-citizens receiving food stamps has quadrupled since 2001, to an estimated 1,634,000 as of June 2012:

Interestingly, the same issue is currently being confronted in Great Britain. Because of European Union rules, unrestricted immigration from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK will begin in 2014. (Why Romania and Bulgaria? I have seen no explanation.) As we have noted before, the United Kingdom already has a problem with European immigrants who take advantage of its lavish welfare system. The imminent influx from Eastern Europe has the British up in arms, and their government is currently battling with the EU over the issue. It has just announced plans to “ensure that Britain is not ‘a soft touch.’” Among other things, the government is proposing a residency requirement of up to a year before immigrants are eligible for British benefits.

The contrast with Obama’s policy of recruitment is stark. If we assume that the administration’s goal is to maintain the United States as a strong and prosperous nation, then its immigration policies are quite literally insane. I can see only two possible explanations for the administration’s eagerness to attract welfare recipients from other countries. One is that Obama is so blinkered by ideology that he irrationally believes that any expansion of government spending must necessarily be a good thing. The other is that his objective is not, in fact, to preserve America as a strong and prosperous nation.

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