This week the U.S. Senate began debate on the bipartisan Farm Bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240). Congress reauthorizes the Farm bill every five years or so to update the federal laws governing U.S. agricultural and food policies. This year’s bill is being championed by Senators Stebanow (D-MI) and Roberts (R-KS), the leading Democrat and Republican on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.
As the Senate struggles to develop agreement on how to structure the floor debate, LIRS has become aware that Senator Sessions (R-AL) intends to file an amendment to the bill that would hurt low-income U.S. citizen children. In order for a family to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Sessions amendment would require program recipients to be verified through an employment verification program, sign a declaration that all members of their household are ether U.S. citizens or are “in a satisfactory immigration status”, and submit documentation of their citizenship status and the citizenship status of members of the household.
There are currently 16 million children at risk of hunger in the United States. The Sessions amendment would threaten many of these children’s ability to access support through SNAP. For example, up to 4.5 million U.S. citizen children live in mixed legal-status households. However, under the Sessions amendment, these U.S. citizen children would lose access to federal support that helps their families put food on their table.
By law, undocumented children and adults do not qualify for SNAP. What’s more, poor children who participate in SNAP are less likely to suffer health and developmental problems. Yet, the Sessions amendment would deny access to the entire household if only one person in the household was undocumented.
SNAP has been a lifeline for many families during the most recent economic downturn. Senator Sessions’ proposed SNAP restriction is unnecessary and threatens to harm children who are most at-risk of living in poverty and being food insecure. It would take food off the table for eligible U.S. citizen children who depend on SNAP to ensure that they do not go to sleep hungry.
Call toll-free TODAY at (877) 698-8228 to urge your Senators to reject the Sessions amendment.