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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

A Mythical Florida Mom (And Other False Claims About Immigrants)

Q: Does an illegal immigrant in Florida get $1,500 a month for each of her eight children?

A: No. Illegal immigrants don’t qualify for welfare or food stamps. A chain e-mail from a “disabled Vietnam vet” is full of misinformation.  


Doubting that the info about someone receiving $1,500 each for 8 children is correct, but would appreciate any information you are able to provide.

THIS IS TRULY AN OUTRAGE…. My name is d’Lynn. I’m a disabled Vietnam vet. I don’t look too bad for a beat-up old fart, do I? And that’s my ride. She’s looking pretty good looking also, especially when you consider that she’ll turn twenty this summer. That’s right, it’s a 1990 with a 1990 sidecar. I can’t ride a solo bike, ergo the sidecar rig. It’s my sole means of transportation – rain or shine, snow or wind, and this summer also marks a milestone in both of our lives, as I will finally be able to pay her off. Twenty years old? What? Why did it take so long? You weren’t paying attention, were you? It’s right at the beginning of this paragraph. I am a disabled vet, which means I receive a veterans administration disability pension, which also means “I’m broke!” Just one step ahead of being homeless every month, and that’s not an idle statement or an”Oh, whoa is me” dire complaint. There’s a point to this, so hang in there a minute or two and read on. There’s a 25-year-old illegal immigrant woman living in Florida, with eight kids. Yes, eight “anchor babies” and she receives just shy of $1,500 per month per kid, plus medical, plus food stamps. Oh, wait. I’ve been informed that I shouldn’t call them Food Stamps anymore. That’s not PC. It’s all called “Social Assistance” now. You do the math on that yourself. I’d say that she was schooled early in how to make it in the system. Twenty-five years old, eight kids . . . . . yep, she started early. You can whip out the calculator if you want, but this women who never has paid a dime in taxes of any kind, (and still doesn’t – she’s ‘illegal,’ remember?) is here in this country illegally. She hasn’t paid one one cent in medical for all the “anchor babies,” makes more in one month, legally, than I receive in over a year and a half in disability payments and I can’t even get food stamps! Oops, I mean “Social Assistance.” Technically I am eligible for “Social Assistance.” I was told it would be a walk through – a gimme – being disabled. No problem, and in the very next breath I was also informed that under the law the amount I received in “Social Assistance” would be deducted from my disability pension. Let’s say I take a great photograph. It was just luck, a one of a kind accidental, in the right place at the right time shot. My local newspaper offers me fifty bucks to use the photo in a featured story. (I live in a small town and fifty bucks is all they could afford.) I have to report that fifty dollars to the VA as earned income, which will immediately be deducted from my next month’s disability check. If I don’t report it I’m in violation of federal law and technically they can stop my disability pension and prosecute me under a federal felony. Pretty cool, eh? For fifty bucks. I see no point in dealing with two federal bureaucracies, so I don’t bother. What’s the point? She’s here illegally and with just one kid would make over twice what I receive per month. She has eight and she’s not a stand-out case. She’s not alone. That’s the way the system works. Millions of illegal immigrants know this, know how the system works and know how to use it. (Haven’t you seen the pamphlet? It’s handed out all along our borders, “The Illegal Immigrants’ Guide to Keeping America Just The Way It Is.”) and that’s just the way it works. Did you know that the federal government provides a “refugee” in this country with a monthly “stipend” of $1,890, plus $580 a month in “Social Assistance?” That’s $2,470 a month, tax-free. That’s two and a half times what I’m allowed to receive as a disabled vet. And just what did they do to earn this? All you have to do is show up on our collective doorstep, raise your right hand and swear that you’re a refugee and, bingo, receive $30,000 a year, tax-free. That’s more than someone making $15 an hour, and they have to pay taxes to boot! Now, in defense of the Veterans Administration, they are doing what they can with what they’ve got. This is precious little compared to what they should have to get the job done. At least this country has a VA. It’s the Senate that keeps passing laws, rules and guidelines, cutting their budget, denying requests for more staff and computer systems to handle the massive work flow. Their hands are tied by the very government that’s supposed to give them what they need to get the job done, by the government you voted into office. Don’t scream at the VA. I have. It’s misguided anger. The point to this “story?” Just why are you paying such high taxes to support this incredibly screwed-up government? Why? And I’m not proposing you stop paying your taxes. That’s wrong. There are good programs and reasons to pay your taxes and support our government. What am I proposing? It’s quite simple. Vote. The government, our government, is broken and we as the voters serve as the maintenance crew. We fix it . . . . . by voting. If your state Senator has been in office more then two terms, vote ’em out at the next election. If your state representative has been in office more then two terms, vote ’em out of office. We put term limits on just about every publicly-elected official in the country except the House and Senate. Why? Believe me, they know this and love it! Ahhh – the power! I don’t care how much you believe your Senator or Representative is doing a good job. They’re not! Look at the government you have, that we have. How can you state they are doing what you want as the voter that put them there? How? Vote them out of office. Do it. Change the course of this country’s history by what you are granted and guaranteed under the law. Vote! And if you have the guts, the anger, the outrage, start a petition in your state for a state-wide initiative to be placed on your next state ballot. Limiting the terms of office for your state senators and state representatives to your federal government to two terms. The federal government will never pass such a law, but you can. You can get it done. You can force it. You can make it a law. This is the first step in “getting it right.” Just vote. It’s simple. It’s easy. This first step will send a very clear message. It’ll work. It’ill put “us” back in control of “them.” As it should be. As it was intended in the first place. Are you an American? Born and raised? Then vote! Side note: I sent this e-mail to a little over one hundred on my e-mail list. If you believe I’m wrong or misguided or you simply don’t agree, that’s fine. Go right ahead a delete this e-mail. No problem. Sorry to have bothered you. But if you think I just might have a worthwhile idea, something we can easily accomplish, something that could be a small part at getting this country back under “our” control, then please pass this along. REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER !!


Just about everything this chain e-mail claims regarding benefits to illegal immigrants and refugees is pure bunk. The photo, however, is of a real person, d’Lynn Morrison of Chelan, in central Washington state. He confirms that he originated the message and sent it to 14 to 16 friends and fellow veterans, after which it became an Internet phenomenon. He says some of what appears in the current version has been added or modified by unknown persons who forwarded his message. In an exchange of e-mail messages, he told us:

d’Lynn Morrison: I had no ill-intent to misled in my original email. I used what was sent to me from contacts – and to say the least, I was extremely pissed-off at what I had read.

Unfortunately, the claims that Morrison passed on are simply wrong. His message claims that there is “a 25-year-old illegal immigrant woman living in Florida, with eight kids” who “receives just shy of $1,500 per month per kid, plus medical, plus food stamps.” There is no such woman. The state doesn’t provide benefits anywhere near that large to anyone, native or immigrant, legal or illegal. And illegal immigrants qualify for no cash benefits at all. This message has gotten such wide distribution that the Florida Department of Children and Families has prepared a form letter responding to it:

Florida DCF: Under federal and state law, only “qualified immigrants” are eligible for these benefits. Qualified immigrants must provide documentation of certain legal statuses, so individuals without legal status are not eligible.

The letter also explains why the mythical mother of eight is an impossibility. Under state law, even a citizen or legal resident with eight children couldn’t qualify for anything close to the $12,000 a month ($1,500 times eight) claimed by the message.

Florida DCF: Your email specifically asks if it is true that a woman would receive $1,500 per child in Florida. I can assure you this information is incorrect. … The maximum benefit for a family with one mother and eight children would be $671 a month.

Recycled Bunk

Morrison told us that he heard the story about the undocumented mother from a Florida doctor, whom he did not name. He added, “I admit – I did not check it all out, some of which I didn’t know how to confirm.”

We first encountered the mythical Florida mother of eight in a message that claimed to be written by an anonymous “Florida ER doctor,” who stated the following: “Today I had a 25-year old mother with 8 kids – that’s right 8; all illegal anchor babies and she had the nicest nails, cell phone, hand bag, clothing, etc. She makes about $1,500 monthly for each.” Neither the doctor nor the elusive mother is named, of course.

Both the mysterious “Florida ER doctor” and the latest message also repeat a number of other false claims about refugees that have been circulating since 2007. We covered them in an Ask FactCheck item dated April 17, 2009. We won’t repeat all that here, but we’ll just summarize:

  • It’s not true, then or now, that refugees get a $1,890 monthly stipend from the government. That claim actually started as a mistaken rant about Canada, not the U.S., and it’s not true of either country.
  • It’s also not true that refugees get an additional $580 per month as “social assistance.” In Florida, for example, a single refugee — who is a legal immigrant — could qualify for a maximum of only $180 per month in temporary assistance (plus food stamps), according to the Department of Children and Families.

Morrison told us that his original message stated that a refugee received $890 a month including food stamps, a figure he says he got from “an advocacy attorney in New York State,” whom he did not name. He says somebody later substituted the larger numbers: “Those numbers – in the copy of the email you sent me were changed by someone.., which is so easy to do in emails.” Morrison says he’s amazed at how quickly and widely his message has traveled.

d’Lynn Morrison: One email, written by a ticked-off vet, (that appears that have had his numbers wrong) has reached so many people, groups and government bodies. That is amazing, isn’t it ? Could that have happened ten years ago?

Though he says he didn’t write the last paragraph concluding “REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER,” he adds, “I admit I like that phrasing.” We have no quarrel with anyone who wants to vote incumbents out of office — or keep them in, for that matter. Everyone is entitled to an opinion about that. But in our judgment, false Internet rumors and carelessly repeated falsehoods make a poor basis for forming any opinion or for casting any vote.


Morrison, d’Lynn exchange of email messages with FactCheck.org 12-13 May 2010.

Digre, Peter,  form letter, Florida Department of Children and Families. 18 Mar 2010.

Jackson, Brooks “Social Security for Immigrants and Refugees.” FactCheck.org.17 Apr 2009.

Refugee Whiz” Snopes.com. 24 Feb 2010.