FACT CHECK: Fact Checking Trump’s Claim About Michigan’s Newcomer Rental Subsidy Program

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

In an April 11 TRUTH Social video, 2024 presumptive Republican nominee and former President Donald Trump claimed Michigan’s Newcomer Rental Subsidy program provides “$500 a month in cash to anyone who accepts illegal aliens into [their] homes.”

Verdict: Unsubstantiated

The Newcomer Rental Subsidy could possibly be used for someone with a pending asylum application. However, it appears that the vast majority of the people who have been approved for the program are here legally.

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Trump and President Joe Biden are tied at 37%, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, the outlet reported.

In the April 11 TRUTH Social video, Trump claimed Michigan’s Newcomer Rental Subsidy program provides “$500 a month in cash to anyone who accepts illegal aliens into [their] homes.”

“In Michigan, radical, left Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer is handing out $500 a month in cash to anyone who accepts illegal aliens into your homes. Isn’t that nice? She’s calling the scam the Newcomer Rental Subsidy. In other words, she’s calling illegal immigrants — many coming from jails, many coming from mental institutions, many are terrorists — she’s calling them newcomers, isn’t that wonderful?” Trump said via the same video.

“And it’s all funded by federal taxpayer dollars distributed by crooked [President] Joe Biden … Biden and Whitmer are selecting and stealing your money to give free housing to illegal alien migrants and then asking you to quarter these foreign armies. And that’s what they are, they’re armies,” he continued.

The claim is unsubstantiated. According to the Office of Global Michigan’s website, “the Newcomer Rental Subsidy program provides Refugees and other Newcomer population-eligible households with rental assistance up to $500 per month for up to 12 months, with eligibility based on immigration status and household income.” Eligible immigration status is determined by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and includes refugees, asylees, individuals on Special Immigration Visas (SIV), victims of human trafficking, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Afghan nationals, and Ukrainian humanitarian parolees.

Other eligible immigration statuses include “individuals who arrived under the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan (CHNV) program; individuals who arrived under the Family Reunification Parole Process for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia, individuals with a pending asylum application, and other immigrant individuals on a case-by-case scenario,” according to the same website. (Emphasis added by Check Your Fact).

In addition, the website indicates that those who wish to benefit from the program “must be renting individuals or households who are experiencing housing instability,” who are under 185% of the federal poverty limit, live in a “qualified census tract area,” or whose income is at or below 60% of area median income and receive federal assistance such as “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)” and other programs.

A four-page summary of the program notes applicants must also provide documentation including but not limited to a driver’s license, rental verification form, application for asylum, and a government benefits statement to determine if they are eligible to enroll in the program. Similarly, verification that unemployed individuals have enrolled in an employment program may be required to qualify for the program, according to the same summary.

Furthermore, it is the “landlords” who receive the subsidies, rather than the “beneficiaries themselves,” according to the Detroit Free Press. Since the program’s inception in October 2023, it has “provide[d] funding to help house 1,242 immigrants,” which includes 537 refugees, 504 Afghanis “arriving under programs helping those who aided U.S. forces,” and 24 asylees.

Additionally, 69 individuals on SIVs, 61 children born to immigrant families after arriving in the U.S., 35 Ukrainians granted humanitarian parole, seven Haitian entrants, and five individuals with lawful permanent residence are included in the number of 1,242 immigrants, according to The Washington Post.

Neither of the two articles provides any evidence to support Trump’s claim that illegal immigrants coming from jails or mental institutions are taking advantage of the program. A spokesperson for the Office of Global Michigan directed Check Your Fact to both articles. The Office of Refugee Resettlement does partially fund the program, according to the program summary.

“This program is supported in part, by federal award number SLFRP0127 awarded to The State of Michigan by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and in part by the Office of Global Michigan through allocation of federal Office of Refugee Resettlement awards,” the program’s summary reads.

When asked to comment on Trump’s claim, the same spokesperson said, “The Office of Global Michigan only approves residents who are in the country legally as determined by the federal government.”

Alex Pfeiffer, a spokesperson for Trump-aligned Super PAC MAGA, Inc. disagreed with the Washington Post’s reporting. (RELATED: Instagram Video Makes Claim About Trump, Patton, MSNBC)

“Michigan can lie to the Washington Post all it wants, but its guidelines make it clear that an illegal immigrant is eligible for this rental subsidy. The guidelines state that anyone with simply an APPLICATION for asylum can receive the subsidy. This is as if a liquor store had a sign outside that said ’16 year olds can buy beer here,’ but then tells the police they don’t sell underage,” Pfeiffer said.

Additionally, Pfeiffer directed Check Your Fact to an April 30 X post from Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin highlighting data on the number of migrants that have flown into the U.S. via the Biden administration’s CHNV program. The data, which was obtained by the House Homeland Security Committee via a subpoena to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), reveals roughly 200,000 migrants flew into over 45 U.S. cities via the program between January and August 2023.

According to the same X post, DHS stated “All individuals paroled into the United States are, by definition, inadmissible, including those paroled under the CHNV processes” via the subpoena response. Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) referenced in the post indicates over 400,000 migrants have flown into the U.S. under the program since it was created in January 2023.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website provides the following information about the CHNV program:

“DHS has announced processes through which nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and their immediate family members, may request to come to the United States in a safe and orderly way. Qualified beneficiaries who are outside the United States and lack U.S. entry documents may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for advanced authorization to travel and a temporary period of parole for up to two years for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. To participate, eligible beneficiaries must have a supporter in the United States; undergo and clear robust security vetting; meet other eligibility criteria; and warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.”

The U.S. government “may grant advance travel authorization to up to 30,000 noncitizens each month to seek parole on a case-by-case basis under the [program],” the website states.

As previously stated, individuals who have entered the U.S. via the CHNV program represent an eligible immigration status that qualifies for the Newcomer Rental Subsidy program, according to the Office of Global Michigan.

Michelle Mittlestadt, director of communications at the liberal-leaning think tank Migration Policy Institute, told Check Your Fact that while they “will leave the Michigan question to those who are familiar with the state policy landscape, I can speak to the broader contention that many unauthorized migrants are ‘coming from jails, many coming from mental institutions, many are terrorists.”

“While this is a recurring charge that Mr. Trump makes, variously naming different countries, we are unaware of any action by any government to empty its jails and prisons or its mental-health institutions to send criminals, terrorists or people with mental-health issues to the U.S. Nor are we familiar with any credible entity independently validating that such actions are happening,” she explained.

A spokesperson for Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration, said in an email to Check Your Fact that Michigan “is handing out $500 in rental assistance to those who take in migrants.”

“Michigan is also actively promoting the settlement of migrants. The program is funded at least in part by the Biden administration through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Millions of people have entered the United States illegally in recent years, and more than 3 million of them have been released into the country, while another 1.8 million eluded apprehension,” the spokesperson said.

“Even those who are encountered and released undergo only a cursory vetting process, owing to the sheer volume of people CBP is dealing with and the impossibility of getting reliable information from some of the countries from which they are arriving. Based on actual crimes that have been committed, it is reasonable to conclude that criminals and others who might pose a threat to the country have been among the millions who have entered illegally in the past three years,” the spokesperson added.

A White House spokesman told the Washington Post that the “assertion that the U.S. government pays rent for asylum seekers is false.” (RELATED: Donald Trump Claims He Defeated ISIS In 4 Weeks)

“There is no federal government program that supports rent assistance for asylum seekers. If Republican elected officials truly cared about fixing the broken immigration system and securing our border, they would support the bipartisan border security agreement instead of blocking it for partisan politics,” the spokesman told the outlet in a statement.

Check Your Fact has contacted a Trump spokesperson, the White House, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and multiple experts for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter