by Debbie Pelley
State Coordinator Education / District 1 Coordinator
For years now Governor Beebe has proclaimed that illegal immigrants do not get benefits in Arkansas. Beebe was adamant about this proclamation as late as July, 2010, in this bullet point from an email from his office.
“In Arkansas, illegal immigrants are prevented ‘by law and regulation’ from receiving welfare, food stamps, free medical care provided by the State and heating assistance. Legal status is verified before benefits are extended. Any attempt to defraud the system to gain benefits is a criminal offense.”
NOW Governor Beebe admits he misspoke! According to an article in The Democrat Gazette, January 23, 2011,
“During the campaign last fall, Gov. Mike Beebe told voters the state tracks how much it spends to provide services to people who are in the country illegally…Beebe’s office has since said that the governor misspoke.” 
Governor Beebe not only made this statement that illegal immigrants don’t get benefits in Arkansas during the campaign but stood on this premise through two ballot initiatives on immigration in 2008 and 2010. Beebe is quoted as saying in 2008 (and a similar statement in 2010),
“All of the major provisions it [ballot initiative] proposes are already covered by federal or state laws, and this ballot title will create bigger government and cost Arkansans money.”
Now Beebe admits the legal status was not even verified so he is also admitting state and federal laws were not even followed. It is hard to imagine the bureaucratic costs would be more than benefits being given to illegal immigrants. And until real figures are compared, how could Beebe possibly know? And since when did Democrats want smaller government and less bureaucracy? 
One of the major requirements of the illegal alien proposed ballot initiatives was that the departments must verify the legality of people receiving benefits. Therefore, Beebe’s opposition was entirely bogus now that he admits legal status was not even considered. It is strange that people all over Arkansas knew illegal aliens were getting benefits; but Beebe, the Governor of the state, did not know.
So what does Governor Beebe mean when he admits he misspoke? Is Beebe saying he lied? Or is he saying that other people lied to him? Surely he would not have been this adamant about a hot issue that is so important to so many people without having some type of records or reports indicating the departments do keep records. Were documents falsified? Did someone in Beebe’s office give him false information? Did the Department heads give him false information? The Departments seemed to readily admit they don’t keep records. Don’t we need to know where the false information came from?
What will Governor Beebe do now that he does know the truth — that legal status is not even verified in state departments before extending benefits? Will Governor Beebe apologize to Secure Arkansas, and all those citizens that labored hundreds of hours to get the required signatures to make the departments keep records and prevent illegal aliens from getting benefits that are illegal?
As leader of the Democratic Party, Governor Beebe’s statement that illegal aliens weren’t getting benefits was in essence the stand of the Democratic Party. I don’t know of any Democratic leader that refuted his statement, so an entire party was in essence giving false information. Neither do I know of anyone in the media that refuted this information, NOT UNTIL NOW. If these false statements by Beebe had not been proclaimed and carried across the state by the media, there is a very good chance the Secure Arkansas petitions would have been successful.
And what is Governor Beebe, as a former Attorney General, going to do about it now that he knows the truth? Is Beebe going to uphold the law and regulations that even his office points out in the bullet point above: “Illegal immigrants are prevented ‘by law and regulation‘ from receiving welfare, food stamps, free medical care provided by the State, and heating assistance. Legal status is verified before benefits are extended.”
Is Beebe now going to make sure that legal status is verified before benefits are extended? In an AP article by DeMillo,
Beebe is quoted as saying: “I do believe that if something is the law you follow it. If you don’t like the law, you try to change it in the way this country was set up and designed to change the law.“
Will Beebe live up to his own words? Secure Arkansas was trying to change the law, and their efforts were thwarted by Beebe, our Governor, with false information. 
In a nationwide survey in 2009, “83% Say Proof of Citizenship Should be Required to Get Government Health Aid.” Now we learn, “The Department of Health does not require proof of citizenship as a prerequisite of its 12 programs.” Only 4 of the 12 programs are required by the federal government for illegal aliens according to the Democrat Gazette article. Will Beebe represent his constituents and now implement measures to make sure illegal aliens don’t receive benefits in those other 8 Health Department programs? 
In a telephone conversation with Matt DeCample, Governor Beebe’s spokesman told me personally last summer at least five or six times that I was lying or was a liar when I told him all the people in the different state offices were telling me how illegal aliens ARE receiving benefits. Now that several departments have admitted in the Democrat Gazette article January 23 that they do not even check the legal status of those receiving benefits, will I, myself, get an apology from Matt DeCample? I am joking of course; I don’t need an apology because I have already been vindicated, but I do think the media owes it to Arkansans to get answers to these other questions.
As for as the information provided in the 2007 studies of the cost of illegal immigration in Arkansas, figure amounts given in that study have to be false too since the Departments have now admitted they don’t even verify the legal status before extending benefits. This information about departments not keeping records should have been probed by the media in 2007 since in at least two newspaper articles there are indications the heads of departments were just estimating at that time. For example,
“Deputy State Health Officer Dr. Joe Bates testified that of the 945,000 people the state Health Department served in 2006, about 32,700, or 3.5 percent, may have been undocumented Hispanics, based on statewide population statistics.” .
And as for as the Winthrop Rockefeller study about the benefits of illegal aliens in our state that is mentioned in every newspaper article to counter any complaints about illegal aliens, that study is bogus too considering it is based on estimation from a biased viewpoint. That study is the ONLY one ever mentioned by the media when there are probably a hundred studies that say the opposite.
For a real intellectual fact filled study that gives documented data as to the costs of legal and illegal immigrants, see this study, “The Fiscal Impact of Immigration, An Analysis of the Costs to 15 Federal Departments and Agencies” by Edwin S. Rubenstein at the link in footnote 6. The bottom line of this report is that U.S. taxpayers are giving more than $9,000 a year in cash or benefits to each immigrant, a third of whom are illegal aliens. That’s $36,000 for each immigrant household of four. 
1. “State not tracking benefits for aliens” by Sarah D Wire, January 23, 2011
2. “AP News Analysis: Beebe parses words on illegal immigration” by Andrew Demillo, May 31, 2008
3. “AP News Analysis: Beebe parses words on illegal immigration” May 31, 2008 by Andrew Demillo
4. “83% Say Proof of Citizenship Should be Required to Get Government Health Aid” 2009 http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/september_2009/83_say_proof_of_citizenship_should_be_required_to_get_government_health_aid
5. “Lawmakers hear of costs, benefits of immigration” Wednesday, Sep 19, 2007 by John Lyon Arkansas News Bureau