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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Today I rise to support an amendment that hopefully will be seen as a common sense amendment. It deals with H.R. 2744, more specifically with the Food Stamp Program aspect of it, and simply says that we should be complying with the Immigration and Nationality Act when we pass this legislation. The amendment is common sense because it simply says that we should always abide by current Federal law.

As it stands right now with regard to current Federal law, 8 USC 1183(a), it states that an affidavit must be filed by a sponsor of an alien who is in this country legally today. This affidavit of support is a legally binding guarantee on the part of a sponsor that the immigrant that is in this country that they are sponsoring will not become a public charge of this country. That is, that they will not become dependent on welfare. And it is limited for a period of 10 years or until that person becomes a citizen, whichever comes first. This "public charge" requirement is nothing new. It goes all the way back to our immigration policy way back in 1880.

Secondly, with regard to current law, current Federal law states that this affidavit is enforceable against the sponsor of the immigrant by any Federal Government or State, or political subdivision thereof, or any other entity that provides any means-tested public benefit. This means that the sponsor and not the U.S. taxpayer is to be the individual that is responsible for the alien. It also requires providers of these benefits to seek reimbursement from the sponsors and even allows the government to sue for noncompliance.

Just a side note here of interest, there is another law currently on the books in this country, 8 USC 1227, and it makes it clear that aliens who are in country who do become public charges within 5 years of their entry into this country that they are actually subject to deportation in some cases.

The amendment that is before us simply says this: It simply states that no funds appropriated in this Act under the Food Stamp Program will be spent in noncompliance of current Federal law. This amendment is simply about enforcing current law. If one does not like the current law that goes all the way back to 1880, they certainly have a right to try to change that, but that should be done in another piece of legislation and not through this vehicle. So by not supporting my amendment, they are publicly admitting on the floor in the United States that our laws elsewhere on the books are not to be complied with.

I will just end with this: Yesterday, a group of constituents was in my office from a group called Bread for the World, and they came to emphasize the fact that people in this country are going hungry and that there is not quite enough money in the Food Stamp Program today, in their opinion, that it is not adequate to provide all that is needed. So, under such circumstances, we should not be adding to the incentive for other people to become part of this program and become public charges to the taxpayer.

I, therefore, conclude by saying I urge of all my colleagues to support this common sense amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment. This is somewhat unusual, and I appreciate the gentleman from New Jersey's (Mr. Garrett) concern in this area. However, this is almost like going into a neighborhood and seeing a family that is playing by the rules and respecting the law and we are going to pass a law that says you have to do that all over again. So, in our view, it is unnecessary and duplicative and there is no indication that USDA is doing anything to contradict statutory provisions right now related to collection from sponsors of food stamp benefits paid to sponsored aliens.

So, because of the redundancy and the statement of the obvious, frankly, I would oppose the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I appreciate the comments, and if we can be provided with some evidence that the Department is, in fact, complying with the law, that would be greatly appreciated. It is our understanding that currently aliens who are in this country under this program who have a sponsor are, in fact, receiving food stamps under the current law and that there has been no effort whatsoever, ever, in any cases to go after and reclaim those funds from the sponsor in the case. So I would be appreciative of that information at a later date or now if the gentleman has it.


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