Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Rep. Pelosi Statement on Restoring Food Stamp Benefits to Permanent Legal Residents

April 23, 2002

Washington, D.C. -Tonight, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 244-171 Congressman Joe Baca's (D-CA) motion to restore food stamp benefits to legal immigrants. The motion will instruct conferees on the Farm Security Act to restore food stamp benefits for permanent legal residents who have worked for four years, restore eligibility for children, refugees, and to the disabled. The following is a statement of House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

Despite strong Republican efforts to block passage of this critical legislation, their efforts were not successful.

We are a nation of immigrants. Every day our country is blessed by the hard work and creativity of our immigrant community. We are reinvigorated by their courage, their determination, their family values, and their commitment to community and to a brighter future in America.

In the last three months, the Republican Leadership has pushed forward efforts that hurt and undermine permanent legal residents in this country, but each time Democrats have stood united to block these attempts. Every attempt reveals the true sentiment of the Republican Leadership when it comes to immigrant families. We have so many pressing issues to address such as health care for the unemployed, ending terrorism and protecting the Social Security Trust Fund. Instead, Republicans come to this floor day after day and focus on anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant efforts.

We saw this first during the campaign finance reform bill where Republicans brought to the House floor efforts to deny legal residents the right to participate in the democratic process by contributing to political campaigns. One Republican Member even referred to legal permanent residents in the United States who were not citizens as potential “enemies of the State.”

We saw it again a few weeks ago, when Republicans led the charge against the extension of Section 245 (i), which would allow immigrants to remain in this country while applying to become legal permanent residents. Fortunately, we were able to defeat this anti-immigration effort.

While many legal residents are waiting for citizenship, they contribute tremendously to the success and growth of this country. They pay taxes; their children join the military; and they defend our country. These are vital members of their local communities. Like the rest of hardworking Americans, many legal residents face difficult financial times or are unemployed as a result of the tragic events of September 11. And when they are having difficulty supporting their families, we should not penalize their children by denying them adequate nutrition.