Viewpoint: Reader offers rebuttal to Duffy letter
Congressman Sean Duffy recently sent an email to constituents allegedly on the topic of homelessness. In it, the Congressman seems to blame homelessness – and the existence of homeless veterans – on illegal immigration.
Mr. Duffy asks a question he doesn’t really want to hear an answer to: “So why should we prioritize people who don’t come here lawfully ahead of our veterans?”
The answer is, we don’t.
Homeless veterans are as old a fact of life as war itself. Fortunately, when a homeless vet turns up at a VA, within a day he is given a housing voucher, either for a HUD apartment or a hotel, if income eligible. Veterans, along with any other citizen, can apply for food stamps. And any veteran who’s received an honorable discharge – whether she served for six months or 20 years – receives lifetime medical benefits from the VA, free of charge. Even veterans who are discharged “less than honorable” receive free mental health services.
This is as it should be, but Congressman Duffy is either not aware of benefits our VA provides, or he’s twisting issues of homelessness and immigration in ways intended to excite emotion, but not capable of withstanding scrutiny.
In his email, Mr. Duffy provides a link to a video of himself which he posts on his Facebook page. In the video, he presents no evidence to support his diatribe that our government prioritizes spending on illegal immigration over homelessness. (Unless, of course, spending money on anything, including a $5 billion wall, means we are prioritizing it).
Apparently to support his proposition that illegal immigration promotes American homelessness, Mr. Duffy also links his audience to an article on Fox News. The article is about county spending in Los Angeles, for food stamps and welfare benefits to families who have at least one U.S. citizen or legal resident in the household.
That same 2017 article which Duffy cites quotes a top California Republican, Shawn Steel, as saying, “The amazing thing is that everyone was expecting a big wall to stop [illegal immigration],” he said. “The decrease has been enhanced dramatically by ICE agents just doing their job.”
Doesn’t Mr. Duffy stand for the opposite of that?
Homelessness in Wisconsin and our 7th Congressional District has nothing to do with anything Congressman Duffy pointed to in his email and its links.
More shamefully, the article to which Mr. Duffy directed the public highlights a false innuendo that fuels anger and leads to racism: that an illegal immigrant can enter the country and begin receiving welfare. That is not true. Only families with at least one U.S. citizen or other legal status receive food stamps or welfare benefits if they prove financial need. And none of that money is taken from veterans’ benefits.
With the kind of rhetoric as is demonstrated in Mr. Duffy’s email and its links, it’s no wonder the Congress he’s been a part of since 2011 can’t pass meaningful immigration reform.
Lisa Brouillette, Attorney, Florence