Illegal Immigrants Receive Federal Aid

Chris Velardi, WTNH.com (New Haven), September 12, 2007

A whistleblower with the Community Action Agency says the company was providing federally subsidized heating assistance to illegal immigrants in New Haven.

An audit by the Department of Social Services confirmed the allegations and revealed that applicants were not required to provide their social security number to receive assistance. While it is state policy not to turn off people’s electricity in the winter, this recent revelation calls into question who is eligible for such assistance.

The question of who is eligible to get government help to pay a heating bill is not one that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal takes lightly.

“We’re talking about a matter of life and death,” Blumenthal said. “There has to be a legal authority, a statute, that provides the power to spend taxpayer money on heating assistance, or education, or food.”

Amos Smith is the Executive Director of New Haven’s Community Action Agency and says his agency is caught in a tough spot because the law is murky.

“America needs to make a decision about what it thinks about people who are in the country illegally and how it treats them,” said Smith.

Smith says he never asked his employees to do anything illegal and wishes that the whistle blower had gone to him instead of the state. Smith says that certain applications do fall into a gray area.

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By all indications, it does not just affect agencies providing aid in New Haven.

“This issue is an emerging issue that’s confronting not just us, but all of this country,” said Smith.

The attorney general says he will issue his ruling by the end of the month and says he will try to include some recommendations to address what he calls a difficult moral and legal question.

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