Katrina: Green Card Required for Aid

Brett Marston, who apparently reads Spanish newspapers as well as German and English ones, reports that a FEMA official has said that a “Green Card” is a condition of receiving hurricane assistance.

I couldn’t find any reference to this episode in any other sources, but if it’s true either that FEMA is checking green cards before giving aid, or that an official has encouraged fears that this would be the case, that’s shameful.

Aside from logistical issues–some people might have lost their wallets in the flooding, everyone who “looks Mexican” isn’t a non-citizen and vice-versa, and so forth–I’m not sure what’s so shameful about it.

Documentation is a reasonable safeguard against abuse. One would presume that confirmation that one lived in an area damaged by the flooding and actually lost one’s property would be a precondition of receiving aid. Shameful though it may be, there are those who would not balk at taking a free handout intended for hurricane victims even though they aren’t themselves members of that group.

Similarly, it’s unclear to me what those who have violated our laws by entering the country illegally have any claim to our resources. Why should the taxpayers subsidize lawbreakers?

Obviously, medical aid should be rendered without document checks. But, surely, we should have some safeguards in place to ensure those to whom federal rebuilding grants are given actually merit them?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Fersboo says:

    You are a bigot JJ!!!!!!!!!!111

    How dare you question the refugees’ patriotism, you white, european, jinogistic male!!!!!!11


    /end sarcasm and attempt to write l33t

  2. marybeth says:

    Without more information it’s hard to tell what is going on here, but it’s possible that this was part of an announcement to let legal immigrants know that they may qualify for federal aid.

    I’m basing this on a notification from FEMA from 2001.

  3. DL says:

    See if I have it right? The administration that has allowed illegal immigration on a grander scale than any in history, (imbellishment is such fun!)furthermore, the administration that has done the least to prevent federal institutions and health agencies from activly assisting illegals, is suddenly saying no to basic emergency health care for illegals?
    If they really believe their own tripe, I have a picket fence I won’t let them white-wash because it’s just too much fun!

  4. Kent says:

    I can’t see withhholding livesaving aid from illegal immigrants. Even convicted murderers receive medical treatment while in prison.

    Rebuilding aid is another matter entirely. I can’t see giving it to illegal immigrants.

  5. cirby says:

    The more pertinent FEMA link:


    Basically, it comes down to the fact that illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for some types of aid, but other types might be available for them.

  6. jr says:

    Not all non-citizens without Green Card are illegals. There are visitors: tourists, business visitors; temporary residents: students, h1b workers and their families; etc. What about them? Temporary residents pay federal and state taxes by the way.