Mark Lamb, sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, is pictured during a House hearing on border security in Washington, D.C. on February 28, 2023. Lamb this week claimed that undocumented migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were being handed $5,000 gift cards by “our government.”
An Arizona sheriff who moonlights as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate has claimed that undocumented migrants are being given $5,000 gift cards after illegally crossing the southern border.
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb made the claim this week in a video shared to his Senate campaign account on X, formerly Twitter. Lamb said that “our government” was handing the migrants gift cards, cell phones and airline tickets to any domestic destination after entering the country.
“When these folks come across and they’re processed, they’re being given a cell phone, a plane ticket to anywhere they want to go in this country—so, probably to a community near you—and a $5,000 Visa card,” Lamb says in the video.
“So, while this Christmas season you’re struggling to keep your lights on, while you’re struggling to pay your rent, put Christmas presents under the tree for your kids, we have our government giving people who came into this country illegally $5,000 gift cards,” he added. “That’s the truth, folks.”
There does not appear to be any U.S. government program that gives undocumented migrants $5,000 gift cards. Newsweek reached out for comment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) via email on Thursday.
According to right-wing newspaper The Epoch Times, Lamb heard about the supposed gift card exchange from “close sources” at the border, telling the outlet that he was “absolutely in shock when these agents came forward” with the news.
“To give out $5,000 Visa gift cards to people who break our laws and come into our country illegally when the average American is struggling to pay their bills is just tough to swallow,” Lamb said, before hinting that the purported gift cards may be distributed by charities rather than the government.
“The government can make the claim that they aren’t directly paying for it, because each dollar first goes from the government to a non-government institution like a charity before it is used to pay for the illegals,” he said.
While the U.S. government does offer funding support to some charities and other non-governmental organizations that aid migrants, it is not clear that any of the organizations are issuing those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with $5,000 gift cards.
Some migrants are given a mobile phone after entering the country, with the purpose of tracking the migrants with pre-loaded software called SmartLink. The free phones cannot be used to access the internet or make unauthorized calls or text messages.
Lamb is seeking the Republican nomination to replace Arizona’s Democrat-turned-independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema. His chief Republican rival in the race is former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, while Democratic U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego has also declared his candidacy.
Like Lake, Lamb is a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” by massive voter fraud. He has been dubbed the “QAnon Sheriff” by some, referring to the far-right conspiracy theory that claims Trump is fighting a secret war against blood-drinking Democrats.
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