Immigration Reform Proponent Sen. Robert Menedez Drove Pigford Style Hispanic Farmer Settlement

Immigration Reform Proponent Sen. Robert Menedez Drove Pigford Style Hispanic Farmer Settlement

A blockbuster front page New York Times story reveals that ‘Gang of Eight’ member Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was a driving forced behind the designed-for-fraud settlement that the Obama administration made to compensate Latino and Hispanic “attempted-to-farmers.”

After the Pigford fraud scheme was successful at giving away billions in taxpayer dollars to people who claimed to have “attempted to farm,” lawyers turned to other special interest groups for their own versions of the Pigford scam. Soon, there were attempts to file suit on behalf on Native Americans, women and Hispanic and Latino farmers. 

Despite the hoopla, the lawyers had trouble finding people to bring suit. Fewer than one hundred Hispanic/Latino farmers actually joined the suit–and then they faced an uphill battle as the judge in the case ruled that they were not a “class” under the law. 

Then, as theTimes details, the Obama administration created its own legally questionable settlement that bypassed Congress and authorized billions of dollars. 

Driving that move was Sen. Menendez. The Times says:

…members of the Congressional Hispanic caucus and a group of eight Democratic senators, led by Mr. Menendez, were lobbying the White House to move in the opposite direction. They grew increasingly agitated as the plaintiffs’ cases appeared to falter.

In a letter to Mr. Obama in June 2009, the senators noted that black farmers stood to receive $2.25 billion in compensation, but that Hispanic farmers, who alleged the same kind of discrimination, had gotten nothing. Should that continue, Mr. Menendez wrote that September, “Hispanic farmers and ranchers, and their supporters, will be reaching out to community and industry leaders outside of the Beltway in order to bring wider attention to this problem.”

Senator Menedez appears to be saying that if his particular special interest group doesn’t get what they perceive as their share of the farmer settlement pie, they will make a lot of noise.