County commissioners get state warning to cease asking legal status of WIC recipients
Apr 11, 2016 04:50 AM EDT
The state of Kansas has warned the Sedgwick County commissioners not to ask the participants in their federal nutrition program about their citizenship status or else, they might risk the ability to administer the program.
According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment drafted and sent a letter last week to the commissioners and the county counselors. The letter addresses the questioning of the status of the participants involved in Women, Infants and Children program since a change in the state eligibility requirements could result in a termination of the program in the state's contract.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment letter said "The current state and local operating procedures do not limit participation in the WIC program. Before participation is limited, the KDHE must amend the procedures for participation and provide USDA with the amended procedures."
Furthermore, Washington Times wrote that the letter does not indicate the plans of the state to seek a change in the program which might provide checks to low-income families for nutritional foods. Meanwhile, Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau suggested last fall that the county health department start using a questionnaire that would ask about the Immigration status of all those involved in using the health department services. The commissioners said that such action has a motive to gather data regarding the department's services.
However, Daily Progress reported that US Department of Agriculture authorities said that asking for WIC client's progress would be out of compliance and therefore, damage federal grant dollars. Meanwhile, Public health and immigrant advocacy groups criticized Ranzau's proposal saying that it would only have a negative effect on the people seeking services and risk the community health.
The commissioner proposed last year that the state should redefine the eligibility of the program to block illegal immigrants from getting WIC benefits. Ranzau said the state's vague answer to his questions regarding the issue made him frustrated. He said "They've failed to answer any of our questions, basically,"