Michigan migrant housing aid program misrepresented online

Social media posts claim the US state of Michigan is awarding "illegal immigrants" thousands of dollars in housing subsidies. This is false; only non-citizens with a legal resident status can benefit from the program. 

“So the State of Michigan will give you $6,000 completely free if you meet one condition: You just have to be an illegal immigrant!” says a man in a video shared April 2, 2024 by the X account Wall Street Apes, which AFP has repeatedly fact-checked for spreading misinformation.

The speaker continues: "People that we have no idea what their background is, if they are criminals, we're giving them our taxpayer money to pay for their bills."

Similar posts spread elsewhere on X, Facebook, Rumble, Gettr and in online articles. Former US president Donald Trump promoted related claims in a Truth Social video published April 11.

Screenshots of an X post and a Truth Social post taken May 2, 2024

A surge of crossings at the US-Mexico border has made migration a defining issue of the 2024 presidential election -- and a major talking point for Trump, who hopes to retake the White House in November.

AFP has previously debunked allegations that undocumented immigrants can vote and that President Joe Biden is "secretly" flying unvetted migrants to the United States.

The latest claim about Michigan is similarly inaccurate.

Launched in 2023 by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the state's Newcomer Rental Subsidy provides refugees and immigrants with qualifying income levels assistance of up to $500 per month for up to 12 months. The state gives the aid directly to landlords (archived here).

"The Office of Global Michigan only approves residents who are in the country legally as determined by the federal government," said Jason Moon, communications director at the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, on May 2, 2024. "Applications with a pending defensive asylum hearing are not eligible."

A Global Michigan press release (archived here) reiterates that the program, financed through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), only enrols those eligible under federal guidelines (archived here).

Qualified applicants include refugees, asylees, those with special immigrant visas, victims of human trafficking, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Afghan nationals and Ukrainian humanitarian parolees (archived here, here, here, here, here, here and here). All must be legally in the US and undergo background screenings and a vetting process.

AFP contacted the ORR for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.

Read more of AFP's reporting on misinformation about migration here.

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