Should the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services to Flag Illegal Immigrants?

According to the Charlotte Observer, Mecklenburg County Commissioners are currently in discussions over whether to accept a proposal that will require the reporting of undocumented family members of American-born children receiving public benefits. Commissioner Bill James is asking the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services to ignore state and federal regulations and alert immigration officials or the sheriff’s office when it suspects that an illegal immigrant has applied for welfare or food stamps for his or her U.S.-born children. James believes that the state is handing out benefits by using so-called “anchor babies” as a cover for its actions. Under the 14th Amendment, citizenship is automatically granted to any child who is born in the United States.

A recent study released by the Pew Hispanic Center revealed that the number of children in this country with at least one undocumented parent increased from 2.7 million in 2003 to 4 million in 2008. Furthermore, more than 70 percent of all children of illegal immigrants are United States citizens.

North Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) reports that a total of 5,635 out of the 61,074 families receiving food stamps in Mecklenburg County include at least one illegal immigrant, and that approximately 3.4 percent of the $77 million in total welfare, food stamp, and Medicaid payments made to Mecklenburg County residents in July were given to the children of suspected illegal immigrants. DSS Director Mary Wilson reports that DSS is prohibited from reporting an applicant’s immigration status to federal authorities unless it is aware of an existing formal order of deportation.

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