Friday, November 21st, 2014
Pants on Fire!
Facebook posts
"More than 43 percent of all food stamps are given to illegals."

Facebook posts on Monday, June 18th, 2012 in on the Internet

Facebook post says more than 43 percent of all food stamps are given to illegal immigrants

A reader asked us to check out this Facebook post with 10 claims about illegal aliens.

A reader recently sent us a Facebook post with "10 Illegal Alien Facts." One of them was that "more than 43 percent of all food stamps are given to illegals."

We decided to take a look -- and quickly found the claim was preposterous.

In March 2012, the most recent month for which figures are available, a total of 46.4 million people received food stamps, so 43 percent of that number would be slightly less than 20 million.

For obvious reasons, the numbers of illegal immigrants is much trickier to track. However, the most widely accepted number comes from the Pew Hispanic Center, which estimated that there were 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States in 2010.

So it’s mathematically impossible for more than 43 percent of all food stamps to be given to illegals -- there simply aren’t enough undocumented immigrants in the country to make the math work. Nor does the math work if you choose a month before the number of food stamp recipients rose due to the recession. In October 2008, there were 30.8 million recipients; 43 percent of that number is 13.2 million, which exceeded the total number of illegal immigrants at the time, 11.6 million.

None of this even takes into account an even more basic reality: It is against the law for Illegal immigrants to receive food stamps and the government has a process to verify immigration status. Citizen children of illegal immigrants can qualify (there are 3.5 million, according to Pew) but that's not enough to make the math work.

Is it possible some illegal immigrants receive food stamps anyway? Sure. But even if every single one somehow managed to fool the government, it still wouldn't be enough to account for the 43 percent.

Our rating

The first of the Facebook post’s 10 claims -- that "more than 43 percent of all food stamps are given to illegals" -- is ridiculously false. It isn’t mathematically possible given the number of illegal immigrants in the United States, and it ignores the fact that illegal immigrants can’t even receive food stamps legally. Pants on Fire!