• Department of Agriculture vows change after “food stamps for foreigners” scheme uncovered
By Victor Thorn
As hardworking American taxpayers struggle to pay their bills, a move by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July 2012 would surely infuriate the country’s working class.
Two years ago, the USDA used taxpayer funds to create and purchase television advertisements for a 10-part series of commercials called Parque Alegria (“Happiness Park”) on Spanish soap operas that encouraged Mexican citizens with American-born anchor babies—both legal and illegal—to apply for food stamps.
In April 2013, Judicial Watch, Inc., “a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law,” obtained a leaflet in Spanish that USDA officials had been circulating at the Mexican embassy. The flier not only promoted food stamp usage to those unlawfully crossing the U.S. border, but also contained the following message in boldface type: “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking benefits for your children.” The USDA specifically asked the Mexican embassy to distribute this document to its 50 consulates.
To ensure that there are no misunderstandings as to where the Obama administration stands on this issue, USDA representatives teamed with the Mexican government in order to prevent Kansas from denying food stamps to illegal aliens.
In response to this situation, on February 6, this reporter interviewed Kristin Tate, a multimedia journalist, television correspondent for JAGTV and weekly columnist for The Washington Times Communities.
Tate told this newspaper: “Americans should be outraged that the USDA portrayed food stamps in a wholly favorable light on these silly soap opera commercials. Even worse, they’re working in conjunction with the Mexican government. This sheds some light on how out of control the welfare state is.”
“In 2013 there was $2.6 billion worth of fraud in the food stamp program,” Tate said. “Not only hasn’t anybody been held accountable, but this trend shows how the Obama administration is trying to get people hooked on subsidies so that they’ll always vote for the Democratic Party. Giving food stamps to illegals also illustrates how Obama is further pushing his amnesty agenda.”
Fortunately, some changes may be on the horizon. On February 7, this newspaper reached out to Amanda Browne at the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s Communications Office. Although Ms. Browne couldn’t assist in determining how much money had been spent on the Spanish soap opera commercials, she did say in a statement released to the public: “USDA is not running radio or television advertising relating to SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], and has not for several years.”
Ms. Browne added more good news. “The 2014 farm bill places new limitations on the use of federal funds for activities related to the recruitment and promotion of SNAP. This includes the inability to use funds for advertisements, specifically radio, television and billboards.”
Ms. Browne said: “The current statute (prior to the farm bill) authorizing SNAP specifically prohibits the use of federal funds to recruit participants for SNAP. The Food and Nutrition Service defines recruitment activities as an activity intended to persuade an individual who has made an informed decision not to apply for SNAP benefits to change his or her decision.”
Ms. Browne refused to say whether anyone broke the law by using taxpayers’ dollars to buy ads promoting food stamps, but clearly the program violated the USDA’s own rules. So far, though, no one has been fired let alone prosecuted for the Spanish TV ads and the fliers.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 40 books.