FACT CHECK: Are Illegal Immigrants Barred From Every Government Benefit Program?

Joseph Lafave | Contributor

A meme posted by the Occupy Democrats Facebook page claimed that illegal immigrants are ineligible for every type of government assistance program.

“No matter what you heard on Fox ‘News,’ undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for ANY benefits or ‘free stuff,'” reads the April 13 meme.

Verdict: False

Although illegal immigrants are barred from most federal benefits, they are eligible for a limited number of programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, and certain types of emergency relief.

Some states provide public benefits like tuition assistance to illegal immigrants, and all states provide primary and secondary education.

Fact Check:

On the topic of illegal immigration, conservatives frequently argue that people in the country illegally draw from government assistance programs. (RELATED: Trump Claims Illegal Immigration Costs The US More Than $100 Billion A Year)

Occupy Democrats pushed back on this argument, claiming that, without legal status, immigrants don’t qualify for “any” public benefits.

Federal law does prohibit illegal immigrants from accessing most government benefits programs. Besides Medicare and non-emergency Medicaid, it also bars them from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which provides financial assistance to lower income households with children.

However, these immigrants are eligible for a select number of benefits, including WIC, a federal program that provides pregnant or nursing women and children up to age 5 with nutrition assistance, education and health care referrals. The program aids 53 percent of all infants born in the U.S.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed to The Daily Caller that WIC is open to anyone who qualifies, regardless of immigration status.

Illegal immigrants can also obtain certain forms of federal emergency assistance, including emergency room care and disaster relief. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists on its website a handful of other programs illegal immigrants may receive. (RELATED: Are DACA Recipients Eligible For Federal Benefits?)

Illegal immigrants are eligible for primary and secondary school education, and some states like California, Maryland and Texas offer certain illegal immigrants tuition assistance for higher education.

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Joseph Lafave



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