Michigan House Republicans
Leader Hall asks auditor general for help getting answers about Gov. Whitmer’s Newcomer Rental Subsidy program
RELEASE|April 11, 2024
Contact: Matt Hall

Republicans seek information even as administration delays response

House Republican Leader Matt Hall on Thursday asked Michigan’s nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to audit a Whitmer administration program that offers up to $500 in rent assistance per month to people who entered the country illegally and filed a defensive asylum claim to avoid deportation.

In a letter, Hall, R-Richland Township, and Rep. Jamie Thompson, R-Brownstown, urged the auditor general to examine eligibility determination and other processes within the program to see what safeguards are in place and whether the eligibility criteria exceed federal requirements. Hall previously asked the Whitmer administration for data about who has benefited from the program, but the Office of Global Michigan (OGM) has still not provided the requested information more than a week after Monday, April 1 — the date by which the director promised to respond.

“As Michiganders suffer violent crimes at the hands of illegal aliens, Gov. Whitmer must stop offering to pay the rent of illegal aliens who got caught in the country and then claimed asylum to delay deportation,” Hall said. “If Whitmer is doing this on her own or if Joe Biden put her up to it, as some of her officials claim, taxpayers deserve to know the truth.

“Michigan taxpayers also deserve answers about the wide loopholes in this broken rent subsidy program. They need to know whether the governor is actually vetting those who are receiving taxpayer-funded rent assistance to verify their identity and ensure they meet the employment and income requirements, especially since the criteria are already so lax. Gov. Whitmer must be held accountable for this loophole-riddled program that offers incentives to those who broke our immigration laws.”

Hall asked the OAG to help get several key answers about eligibility requirements and the determination process:

  • Verification of immigration status and identity: The Newcomer Rental Subsidy program requires applicants to provide photo identification and proof of immigration status, and Hall asked how the program is confirming that immigration and identification documents are valid. The ID options include an “alternate identification document” and any “government-issued identification document,” even as some local governments, such as Kalamazoo County, issue IDs for illegal immigrants.
  • Regular reevaluations: Recipients can participate for up to 12 months, and program documents indicate that it reevaluates household eligibility after three, six, and nine months. Hall asked whether the quarterly evaluations are taking place and if those evaluations are sufficient to determine if a recipient is still eligible.
  • Benefit termination: Hall asked whether the program is terminating benefits from recipients who are no longer eligible, whether because of a change in immigration status, residence, employment, or income. This is especially important in the problematic cases of defensive asylum seekers, who entered the country illegally and who may easily lose eligibility if their pending asylum application is denied or abandoned.
  • Employment program verification: Participants are required to work full time or participate in an employment program, although the program allows several broad exceptions. Hall asked whether the program has a sufficient process in place to verify that someone is working, enrolled in an employment program, or meets a valid exemption.
  • Immigration eligibility requirements: Although the OGM has not yet responded to Hall’s request for data, officials have claimed to the press that the eligibility criteria — including the allowance for individuals with a pending defensive asylum application to receive benefits — are entirely based on federal requirements because Biden’s U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is partially funding the program. However, the ORR’s website does not include the broad “individuals with a pending asylum application” criterion that the Whitmer administration does. Hall asked the auditor general to determine if the OGM’s eligibility options exceed what the federal government requires.
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