By Caroline May
The House passed an amendment to the farm bill Wednesday to end the Agriculture Department's partnership with the Mexican government to promote nutrition assistance programs.
"It is outrageous that for nearly ten years the U.S. Department of Agriculture has, in collaboration with the Mexican government, used taxpayer dollars to promote food stamp enrollment to foreign nationals," Tennessee Republican Rep. Diana Black, the amendment's sponsor, said.
The Daily Caller first brought attention to the USDA's partnership with the Mexican government to promote nutrition assistance programs, including food stamps, among Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in America last summer.
Black's amendment is the first piece of legislation to date, which has passed, that addresses the partnership. Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions' attempted to attach similar legislation to the Senate farm bill earlier this month, but his amendment was never brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
As the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has grown, Republicans have questioned the partnership, which was started in 2004 by the Bush administration.
In a recent letter to Sessions, Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack revealed that since 2009 USDA officials have met 18 times with the Mexican Embassy and participated in seven roundtables. Vilsack acknowledged that USDA officials have had 18 meetings, seven roundtables with Mexican Embassy officials and three health fairs since 2009.
Judicial Watch revealed in April that one of the fliers the USDA has provided a to the Mexican Embassy notifies potentially ineligible immigrants that their children are still eligible for food stamps and that to obtain the benefits, ineligible parents would not have to provide documentation.
Until as late as last summer the USDA was also using Spanish-language radio "novelas' to encourage Spanish-speakers to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps. The USDA took the ads down after TheDC exposed the ads, which were met with criticism.
"I am pleased that my colleagues in the House have joined me in fighting to protect our social safety net and stop this misuse of taxpayer dollars by passing my amendment," Black added.