Cheap Tomatoes-Complaint about Illegals – Unproven!, Truth! & Fiction!

Cheap Tomatoes: An Educator’s Complaint about Illegal Immigrants-Unproven!, Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:
This is said to be from someone who is in charge of the English-as-a-second language department at a large Southern California high school.  It describes the writer’s outrage over the status of illegal immigrants in Southern California.  A later version adds complaints about benefits received by illegal immigrants.

The Truth:
This eRumor began circulating in 2006 at a time when there were public protests by immigrants and their supporters over proposed changes in Immigration law.
It is one of those forwarded emails that loses a lot of credibility because the writer didn’t identify himself or herself or what school was talking being described. It has to be classed as either opinion or fabrication because there is no way of authenticating what the person claims.
In 2007 someone tacked on some additional comment at the end of the eRumor and it began circulating again.  The added text described some of the benefits enjoyed by Illegal immigrants which, in the writer’s opinion, offsets the “cheap labor” the immigrants may be providing.
Let’s take those one at a time:
He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent-Fiction!
Section 8 is a government program that provides subsidies for housing for low income families.  It is supposed to go to U.S. citizens, however, and proof of citizenship is required to quality.  Any illegal immigrants in Section 8 housing are there through fraud or are living with a family member who does qualify for it.
He qualifies for food stampsFiction!
To qualify for food stamps you must either be a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant.
He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care-Truth! & Fiction!
Illegal immigrants do not qualify for programs like Medicaid, but federal rules require hospitals to provide emergency care to critically ill or injured patients who come through the emergency room regardless of citizenship or ability to pay.  Many illegal immigrants have made the emergency room their routine place of seeking medical help.

His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school-Truth!
Provision of education and free lunches and breakfasts at qualifying schools is without regard to the citizenship of the students or their families.

He requires bilingual teachers and books-Truth!
This is a part of the requirement of providing educational opportunity regardless of citizenship.
He qualifies for relief from high energy bills-Fiction!
To qualify for benefits under the Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program there must be at least one person in the household who is either a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant.

If they are or become, aged, blind or disabled , they qualify for SSI. Once qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare-Fiction!
The requirements for qualifying for SSI benefits are complicated but the bottom line is that they are not available to illegal immigrants.  For an immigrant to qualify for SSI, according to the Social Security Administration, that person must qualify under one of 8 categories to be in the United States and must have contributed into the Social Security system for a minimum number of quarters.
Updated 2/27/08