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Obama USDA met 30 times with Mexican gov’t to promote food-stamp use among Mexican immigrants

October 1, 2012

NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 10:  Kethia Dorelus a social worker  with the Cooperative Feeding Program displays a Federal food stamps card that is  used to purchase food on February 10, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo  by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Department of Agriculture personnel in the Obama administration have met with  Mexican Government officials dozens of times since the president took  office to promote nutrition assistance programs — notably food stamps — among Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in  America.

Writing in response to Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ July request for information about the USDA’s  little known partnership  with the Mexican government to educate citizen and noncitizen immigrants from  Mexico about the availability of food stamps and other nutrition assistance  programs, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended the partnership as a way to  curb hunger in America — and the continuation of a program formed under the Bush  administration in 2004.

“The Mexico-U.S. Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Initiative is just one  of a wide range of USDA partnership activities intended to promote awareness of  nutrition assistance among those who need benefits and meet all program  requirements under current law.” Vilsack wrote to Sessions in a letter obtained  by The Daily Caller. (RELATED: USDA  uses Spanish soap operas to push food stamps among non-citizens,  citizens)

Since the partnership began, Vilsack wrote, USDA personnel have met at  least 151 times with officials from the Mexican government “to discuss nutrition  assistance programs as well as to provide program updates.” Those instances  included 91 meetings with embassy and consulate staff in 25 U.S. cities; 29  health fairs in 19 U.S. cities; and 31 roundtable discussions, conferences and  forums in 20 U.S. cities.

Roughly 30 of these meetings and activities occurred under the Obama  administration, Vilsack’s letter revealed.

The agriculture secretary added that the list might not be exhaustive as some  of the meetings may not have been recorded.

Sessions has been the lead lawmaker pushing back against the partnership.  According to the Alabama senator, the program appears to be in “plain conflict  with the sound principles of federal immigration law.”

“The premise of American immigration is that those entering our country  should have to work and to contribute to the financial health of the United  States,” Sessions told TheDC Sunday evening. “Not only does the administration  violate this principle through the partnership, but it does harm by gradually  displacing the role of family and community with continual government aid.  Welfare reform is guided by the moral principle that good policy helps more  people live better lives.”

In his letter, Vilsack asserted that USDA does not pressure people to enroll  in the program or is attempting to boost its rolls. President Obama, too, has said that “people do not come here  looking for handouts.”

“We do not pressure any eligible person to accept benefits, nor is our goal  to simply increase the number of program participants, but we are determined to  help people in need make informed decisions about whether or not to seek  assistance for which they may be eligible,” Vilsack claimed.

The mission USDA articulates on its website is to “increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” — food  stamps. The agency has been engaged in aggressiveadvertising  campaigns and issuing guidance  to state and local offices about how to enroll more beneficiaries.

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