Is Program Integrity Just Code for Anti-Immigrant?

Victoria Benner February 8, 2016

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill speak frequently about “waste, fraud, and abuse” in federal programs. From subsidized school meals that feed low-income children to refundable tax credits that incentivize work and offset child-rearing costs, it seems to these lawmakers that the federal safety net is rife with over-payment. The term “program integrity” has recently come into vogue to address the alleged rampant exploitation of the government’s assistance.

It has become clear, however, that when lawmakers discuss “waste, fraud, and abuse” and “program integrity,” these are really just terms of art to justify denying immigrants (and others in need) access to federal programs. While immigrants are already explicitly barred by statute from participating in many of these programs, regardless of whether their status is lawful or not, members of Congress seem determined to limit the few programs that remain.

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