The New York Times’ Jason DeParle spoke to some single mothers who “graduated”/were cut off from welfare in Arizona, and found out what really happens when states stops being polite (and giving payments to the country’s most needy folks/allowing people to stay on welfare until they get jobs) and start getting real (cutting their welfare rolls, limiting cash payouts to two years, and diverting their federal dollars meant to help welfare recipients find jobs — what jobs, right — to other programs).
“Esmeralda Murillo, a 21-year-old mother of two, lost her welfare check, landed in a shelter and then returned to a boyfriend whose violent temper had driven her away.”
“…To keep her lights on, Rosa Pena, 24, sold the groceries she bought with food stamps and then kept her children fed with school lunches and help from neighbors. Her post-welfare credo is widely shared: ‘I’ll do what I have to do.’”
“[Another woman] counts herself fortunate, she said, because a male friend lets her stay in a spare room, with no expectations of sex.”
“One woman said she sold her child’s Social Security number so a relative could collect a tax credit worth $3,000.”
“Asked how she got cash, one woman said flatly, ‘We rob wetbacks’ — illegal immigrants, who tend to carry cash and avoid the police. At least nine times, she said, she has flirted with men and led them toward her home, where accomplices robbed them. ‘I felt bad afterwards,’ she said. But she added, ‘There were times when we didn’t have nothing to eat.’”
“One family ruled out crime and rummaged through trash cans instead. The mother, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, could not get aid for herself but received $164 a month for her four American-born children until their time limit expired. Distraught at losing her only steady source of cash, she asked the children if they would be ashamed to help her collect discarded cans. ‘I told her I would be embarrassed to steal from someone — not to pick up cans,’ her teenage daughter said.”
Ugh. But: surely these are isolated incidents and the reporter found the five people for whom the system isn’t working, right?
“As many as one in every four low-income single mothers [in the U.S.] are jobless and without cash aid — roughly four million women and children.”
Photo Credit: flickr/Rex Roof