New State Bill Could Offer Money to Migrants, Stirring Controversy

( – Democrats in Minnesota introduced legislation March 8 that would provide $500 to people who are at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, raising concerns about undocumented migrants receiving free money.

The bill, HF 266, would provide eligible recipients a $500 monthly statewide guaranteed basic income for 18 to 24 months, with the goal of helping recipients build wealth, advance equity, disrupt poverty, and support basic needs.

Approved by the House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee on March 12, a one-time $100 million appropriation from the state general fund in fiscal year 2025 would pay for the program.

The author of the legislation, Democratic state Representative Athena Hollins, said she thinks the proposed guaranteed income plan should be extended “to individuals who may not have documentation.” She added that “regardless of their legal status,” the migrants participate in the community and should therefore be included in the program.

Democratic Minnesota state Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn agreed with Hollins, arguing that undocumented immigrants pay taxes and, therefore, the immigrants should be supported “as a member of our community.”

However, the proposal was criticized by Minnesota state Rep. Walter Hudson, a Republican, who said it would “very explicitly” provide illegal immigrants with financial support as the program does not require documentation of citizenship, proof of income, residency, or other identifying information. He added that having “unaccountable nonprofits” distributing the funds “explicitly” to illegal immigrants is “legislative malfeasance.” He said the program appears to be “tailor-made to enable fraud.”

This is not the first guaranteed basic income program to be passed in Minnesota, though the other programs were on a smaller scale. A pilot program in St. Paul provided 150 residents with $500 a month for 18 months, between October 2020 and April 2022. Minneapolis is also conducting a pilot program that began in June 2022 and offers 200 households monthly payments through June 2024.

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