Anchor Babies

March 06, 2007 | Written by a frustrated America citizen

       In 1986 I applied for the position of welfare eligibility worker in Tulare County, just south of my home in Reedley, California. Because I reported on my application that I could communicate in Spanish, I was tested for the position of Spanish speaking eligibility worker.

During the first round of interviews I wasn't hired, so when I was called back for a second round of interviews I asked if this had anything to do with the fact that I'm not Hispanic. I think this question made the interviewers wonder if I was thinking about filing a discrimination complaint, so a few days later I got the call to let me know I was to be given a temporary job in the Visalia office, replacing a woman who was out on maternity leave.

The position was for working in the County Medical Services Program, CMSP. This program served indigents who had no other form of medical insurance, including the many illegal aliens who lived in Tulare County. The county is in Central California, right in the middle of the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley, so thousands of farm workers lived in the area.

My job was unique in the welfare department because I often had to go to the hospitals to interview people there. It was best to get the applications started while there was a living, breathing person to talk to because nine times out of ten, the indigent and/or illegal person would disappear leaving the application incomplete and the hospital without payment.

I clearly remember one young Mexican woman who came into the welfare office at the request of the hospital. She was wearing a sleeveless yellow dress and was obviously about as pregnant as she could possibly be. Her long black hair hung loose around her shoulders, and she had a gloriously happy expression on her face. Twenty years later, I still remember the details of this conversation. She told me she was overjoyed because her baby would be born in the United States, and she'd be able to get money for it. She made no effort to conceal the source of her glee though at the time this didn't mean much to me. I was new to the welfare department and didn't know how the regulations worked for situations like these. I granted her CMSP because she had her paperwork in order, she had her baby, and I never heard from her again.

Because I'd learned the CMSP job so quickly I was transferred a few weeks later to a permanent job working in a continuing unit with AFDC clients. These were families who were on welfare, whose cases had to be maintained monthly and reinvestigated yearly. Most of the cases included a cash grant, food stamps, and medical benefits. Working on these cases was much more complicated than working on CMSP, and it took about a year to totally master and understand the job.

Though most of our cases were for American families, there were many families from Mexico. I learned that illegal immigrants received welfare benefits, food stamps and medical aid for every child born in the USA. Typically the father worked and reported income, but since there were so many children in the family, the income didn't disqualify the children from aid payments. Older children may have been born in Mexico and qualified for nothing, just like the parents. At times the entire family survived on what was granted to the younger children who'd been born in the USA.

These cases were difficult to work on not only because I often couldn't understand the Spanish dialects the people spoke with, but also because cases with income required complex calculations that took up quite a bit of time every month. This was before desk computers were installed in our section of the welfare department so I was computing budgets with a small desk calculator and imputing figures using a document that was sent to a separate data processing department.

Because our country gave free money to families with anchor babies who are citizens by virtue of their births in our country, we encouraged thousands of pregnant Mexican women to come here to give birth. Many of them, like the pregnant woman in the yellow dress, her meal ticket safely tucked away in her tummy, were deliriously happy that our nation extended hospitality to all.

If you're wondering if we ever reported illegal aliens to the INS the answer is no. It wasn't part of the job, so we were told not to do anything at all about this, other than to grant eligible cases and dole out the funds.


The Evils of Illegal Immigration

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