Michigan Democrats have repeatedly shot down budget amendments from Republicans aimed at blocking illegal immigrants from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Newcomer Rental Subsidy” program.

Despite assurances from Whitmer’s Office of Global Michigan that illegal immigrants are not eligible for the $500 per month subsides, every Senate Democrat on Tuesday voted against amendments to write that promise into law.

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“Gretchen Whitmer and Democrats swear illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for taxpayer funded rental subsidies,” MI Senate Republicans posted to X. “Yet every Senate Democrat just voted NO on our amendment to make sure.”

The vote followed others in the lower chamber, where rejected amendments from state Reps. Will Bruck, R-Erie, and Jamie Thompson, R-Brownstown, stipulated no taxpayer dollars could be allocated to provide services, grants, or programing to noncitizens who enter the country illegally.

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“It’s outrageous that some politicians would prioritize illegal immigrants over law-abiding citizens,” said Thompson. “The people we represent deserve better, and we will continue to fight tirelessly on their behalf.”

Republicans in both chambers have repeatedly raised concerns about rental subsidies that the program’s website claims are available to “individuals with a pending asylum application,” which would presumably include illegal immigrants who filed a defensive asylum claim to avoid deportation.

OGM Executive Director Poppy Sias Hernandez issued an email to lawmakers in April, weeks after Republican leaders posed several questions about eligibility and loopholes, that claimed “all of OGM’s service populations have lawful presence, and include refugees supported by local resettlement agencies, humanitarian asylees … and asylum seekers who are lawfully present and awaiting work authorization.”

Hernandez also offered statistics on the 1,242 individuals utilizing the program, although The Detroit News notes the state only has data on immigration status for 1,166.

Hernandez’s email and contradictory statements to the media last month has only drawn more questions from Republicans, who sought clarifications about data on denied applications, work authorization qualifications, and income verification exemptions in late April.

“The statement in your letter that ‘all of OGM’s service populations have lawful presence’ does not refute” the concern about defensive asylum seekers, Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, and Rep. Joe Aragona, R-Clinton Township, wrote to Hernandez, “as even defensive asylum seekers who entered the country illegally are technically ‘lawfully present’ once they’ve made this legal maneuver until their claims are adjudicated.

“Many of them reside in our country for six to 10 years before they even receive a hearing,” they wrote.

Republicans have noted that vast majority of asylum applications – 97% in 2023 – are defensive claims. In Detroit, where the average time for an asylum hearing is nearly three years, about 74% of defensive claims are denied, according to MLive.

“It is essential that we uphold transparency and accountability in the administration of public funds, especially in programs designed to support vulnerable populations,” Hall and Thompson wrote in a letter to Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler requesting a review of the program. “By conducting this audit, we can identify any potential areas for improvement and ensure that the Office of Global Michigan’s newcomer rental subsidy program is effectively serving its intended purpose.”

The Newcomer Rental Subsidy is only one of several expensive taxpayer-funded programs pushed by Democrats to support immigrants in Michigan.

Whitmer has proposed spending $8 million for “New Michigander Immigration and Legal Services” for asylum seekers in the upcoming fiscal year. Another program approved by Democrats last year spent $738,000 to “support newcomer integration” through grants to “ethnic and community based organizations” that cater to immigrants.

The intent, according to a news release, is to ensure Michigan is “the state of choice for many newcomer populations.”

“This isn’t about politics; it’s about responsible governance,” said Rep. William Bruck, R-Erie. “Taxpayer dollars should be used to benefit legal residents of our state, not those who have entered the country unlawfully. That’s something we should all be able to agree on.”