Updated 01/07/2012 05:01 PM
Public Advocate Calls For Ban On Food Stamp Fingerprinting
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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is joining the call to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make fingerprinting people who want food stamps a thing of the past.
"It is an immoral policy that must end,” said de Blasio.
It’s a policy that’s been in place for years, but the dustup over the issue ratcheted up a notch Wednesday in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address. He restated his opposition and called for an end the policy.
The biggest complaint about fingerprinting for food stamps is that it’s just one more roadblock that further discourages struggling families from getting help.
"The chief federal official in charge of the food stamp program has made abundantly clear that fingerprinting stigmatizes and interferes with the process of families getting food stamps. Why do we know this is true? Because every state in the country except for Arizona has ended this practice," said de Blasio.
"It looks like they’re criminals, and that doesn't seem right,” said one resident.
"Why should I have to have my finger imaging, be fingerprinted as a criminal and I haven't done anything?" said another.
The mayor says the answer is simple: it prevents fraud and protects taxpayer dollars.
His appointee overseeing the city's food stamp program agrees.
"I think the people that oppose this simple and easy device are naive to not realize that when you run programs like this, they do get taken advantage of, and we have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent that from happening,” said Robert Doar, HRA commissioner.
De Blasio said city officials also have a responsibility to the people who need the food stamps. He's challenging the mayor to announce a change of heart next week when he makes his State of the City address.