CNMI NAP Office Requires Evidence of Employment and Status for Family Food Stamps

January 4, 2012

Since November 28, 2011, the CNMI Food Stamp Office is withholding food stamps intended for eligible U.S. citizen children if their foreign parents cannot produce CW permits or CW permit receipts stating that they have been petitioned by an employer.

The Saipan Tribune article states that the policy has been in effect since December 2011 and that there are some 100 food stamp vouchers on hold and the number is increasing.

The CNMI food stamp program is federally funded.

I have not heard of this CNMI policy until today and I wonder if the NAP office informed those that have had their vouchers withheld of the new requirement by letter or in the form of a public announcement.

Apparently the foreign worker must ask his/her employer for a receipt from USCIS that proves that the employer petitioned the person. The USCIS is still in the process of reviewing applications, approving or denying, and issuing the CW permits. Of course, foreigners may be legally in the CNMI without having CW permits. They may also have H1-B or other U.S. visas or may have been granted parole by USCIS. The article did not state whether these documents also qualify.

The Saipan Tribune reported that other CNMI offices are requiring verification of status:
According to Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Melvin Faisao, this new requirement (CW receipt and permit) applies to other programs of the department.

Among these programs are the Child Care Development Fund, the Office on Aging, the Community Service Block Grant Services, and the Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program.

Faisao confirmed that this new department policy became effective on Nov. 27, 2011, when U.S. federalization took effect in the Commonwealth.

He said that applicants for NAP assistance and other social services under the department are being reviewed accordingly based on these new requirements and their eligibility.
Still, under the federal program U.S. citizen children of alien parents (whether the parents are legal or illegal) qualify to receive food stamps, regardless of the status of their parents.

In the state of Pennsylvania alien parents (even illegals) may apply for their U.S. citizen children to receive benefits:
"It is important to know that U.S. citizen children of immigrant parents have the same rights to public benefits as all other citizens - regardless of the immigration status of their parents. For example, undocumented parents may apply for public benefits for their U.S. citizen children. When applying, be clear that you are applying only for your children, and not for yourself. You should not have to reveal your own immigration status if you are applying for benefits only for your children and not yourself. If you feel you must mention something about your immigration status, it is best to state simply that you do not have an immigration status which qualifies you to obtain benefits. You should not ever feel you have to reveal that you are undocumented. Never show the welfare office proof that you are residing unlawfully in the country, such as an order of deportation against you. 
If you apply for benefits for your children but are denied based on your failure to provide information regarding your own immigration status or social security number, call Community Legal Services at ....
The Iowa Department of Human Services states:
"You can apply for Food Assistance for part of your household even if some members may not be eligible because of their immigration status. For example, parents who do not have legal immigrant status may apply for Food Assistance for their children who are U.S. citizens or qualified legal immigrants. Do not apply for people who don’t have legal immigrant status. 
We will not contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the people you don’t apply for. We must use their income and assets to see if the rest of the household can get Food Assistance. You don’t have to give us the immigrant documents for the people you do not want Food Assistance for."
Unlike the CNMI food stamp office the CNMI Medicaid office does not turn away children of foreign parents who cannot produce documentation of status. The director said that the requirement of the CW permit is not a federal mandate, but is a requirement of the local Medicaid Office. (Could this also be true of the food stamp office?)

Director Helen Sablan told the Saipan Tribune, “It will not affect their application. We still give the child's supply of Medicaid and we don't turn them away. We just make a note [on their file] that they have yet to submit their CW receipt or permit.”

Does the federal government require proof of the parents’ status for a qualifying U.S. citizen child to be awarded food stamps or is that also a local mandate? I have sought help from some officials to help me get the answers and will share them here.

If I was a foreign worker with eligible U.S. citizen children and was denied food stamps by the CNMI NAP Office because I did not or could not produce evidence of status, I would make an inquiry to verify the legality of the denial and/or I would file a complaint. The USDA website states: "In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, a local office is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave SW, Washington D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (Voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer."


Anonymous said...

Somehow this does not seem correct on this supposed "new reg." this sounds more like the Fitial Govt. screwing with the CW again. (I may be wrong)
This is similar to Fitial playing games with the Fed. funded employees' work hours.
I assume that Wendy is going to try and confirm this with a higher authority than those in the NMI that possibly are related to the Gov. and part of his Mafia.
In one way I hope that the Fed get tired soon of this NMI outside interference and find areas to start to prosecute some of these clowns starting with the Gov.

TAGLISH said...

Not here in CNMI, Wendy!
This 2 offices have been so discriminating, unwelcoming and mean to CWs. Long before federalization, immigrations docs of CW parents of US children have been a primary docs for these offices. I hope that those employees they have years ago are no longer there. They're so mean, very uneducated people. They welcome you with people with red watering mouth with nasty question and comments such as...What do you need? You don't have work permit copy....just come back when you have it. Ya neh! we cannot process it, just come back! Their tone and feeling they own and your beggars is very frustrating. It was my first and never again experience with them. These offices should employ people who must know how to help and understand that applicants who come in these offices are in dire needs. Treat everyone equally!

Wendy Doromal said...

Hello Taglish

If anyone treats you or any other foreign worker badly in any federal office please get the employee's name, write down the time and date and a short description of their incident. I will pass it on to officials in Washington. The discrimination oozing from the CNMI on so many levels needs to stop. Our tax dollars pay these people and if they can't act professionally they should be released from their jobs.

Anonymous said...

This was the order of the Melvin Faisao to make things harder for non-indingenous parents of US citizen children. Asking all questions pertaining to the parent not to the children. As much as possible they want all these children to leave with their parents.

It's not your money! said...

There are two issues: whether this is legal under Federal law, and (2) whether this is right and practical. U.S. citizen children of immigrant parents have the same rights to public benefits as all other citizens - regardless of the immigration status of their parents. States may not even ASK about the parents' immigration status, if the parents make clear that they are applying only for their U.S. citizen children. And, even if the SNAP applicant is a "qualified alien," and thus ineligible for the first 5 years after entry into the U.S., children under 18 are specifically excepted from the ban.

Legal issues aside, the purpose of the program is to make sure people living in the U.S. have enough to eat. Can there be any justification for allowing U.S. citizen children to starve because their parents are here without status? No. This is more Fitialization evil.

Fitialization: You asked for it, you got it.

Wendy Doromal said...

INYM You are right. There are two issues. The inhumanity that permeates the CNMI offices is truly unbelievable. I can only imagine what these parents were thinking when they were denied their children's food stamps before the holidays.

captain said...

12:02, You are correct. I did not have time this morning to make a complete statement.
The question is what does the nationality or work status of the non-US parents or guardians of the US Cit. children (or any US Cit. that needs a third party person) have to do with a US Cit. that qualifies for this or other programs funded by the Feds.
The only issue should be to produce a Passport of the person who is requesting the benefits to verify the Cit. of the person that will receive the benefits such as food stamps. medicaid etc.
THAT is the only thing that has any bearing on the issuing of benefits.
It seems like this administration just keeps pushing the envelope.
If this (and other things)was to happen in the US (even Guam) I doubt it would have gotten this far.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 issues:

1) MEDICAID OFFICE - Applicants need to wait for at least six (6) months to get approved and secured the medicaid blue cards BUT NOT FOR THOSE WHO GOT CONNECTIONS. THEY CAN BE APPROVED AT AN AVERAGE OF A WEEK. A Federal investigator could check the application date and approval date. I know that they'll be surprised. Connection? or Expedited service compensation?

2) FOOD STAMP OFFICE - A friend of mine applied and waited for a decision for a period of six (6) months. He always followed-up but given a sour face or sarcastic comments. His local friend helped him and guess what? It was approved but was told when claiming the food stamps that it was the third one. So what happened with the first and second? Ask people and you will hear different stories. A Federal investigator could get the list of beneficiaries. Randomly send a confirmation letter especially those children with alien parents for the amount they get and how long they are in the program. See if somebody else is being benefited.

Feds must get rid of all red tapes going on especially on these offices.

Anonymous said...

This practice by the NAP was already happening years ago when an aliens does not have entry permit. I heard a lot who complain.

Anonymous said...

I think they are just worried that the money will be emptied especially when an alien parents does not have a job it means more money to receive than with job. I saw one local business for the past years and frequently using NAP coupons when buying something. He owns a gas station and the cashier in that store is my relative.

Anonymous said...

I think all the above complaints could be dissolved in some ways when the CNMI/USDA adopts the SNAP debit card (looks like and scanned like a credit card) that is in use on Guam and the mainland. Once you qualify you have a monthly amount you are entiled to and can use. Coupons are out the door eliminating all those scams we all have heard of over the years. Of course there is always a way to beat the "system" in the underground economy. Thing is there is a electronic paper chase with these cards so you are tracked and will be subject to all laws regs etc. Your salary,and tax filings are linked as are other systems. I have a few friends doing some dubious things when purchasing food items and trading for valued items...pugua, beer etc.. I mentioned the long arm of the law will eventually reach out and grab them. I just loved their response; "I will fly back home. Let them try to catch me." The other kicker was; "Why are the people of Guam so concerned? It is US tax payer's money, not theirs...." This sense of entitlement is a stunning me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Similar xenophobic policies affected our friends whose house burned down, next to another house that also burned down. The non locals watched as the firefighters chewed betelnut, they themselves watching as the house burned. And as far as recovery funds (unfortunately, I don't know which office was involved), with non-local's funds being curtailed much sooner.

Anonymous said...

That last post 7:01 make me think of Germany....back in 1937.

Anonymous said...

This discrimination practices of the 2 offices have been going on for years, It has been my experience too. They strongly asked and require you to submit immigration papers for the reason to delay or if possible not to give the child's benefit. Then you have to wait for months until your kid's medicaid card is released until it is almost expired so you are just holding it for a few months for renewal again.

If you are a non-resident they treat you badly thinking that they own medicaid or food stamp.
During those times, It came to my mind that they are being paid by US tax payers to do their jobs but how come they are treating people like this.

I hope that someday these issues would be resolved and the Federal government would investigate so that those people in those offices would do their job or changed those to deserving people and as for now I would be requesting white Americans to take over.

Please help us to stop this discrimination.