US immigrants go hungry for fear using food stamps will lead to deportation


US immigrants go hungry for fear using food stamps will lead to deportation

Meenakshi Jagadeesan

27 November 2018

The inhumanity of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies has been exposed even more nakedly with new reports on the effects of its changes to the “public charge” rule, introduced last month. It connects the qualifications for visas or permanent resident status to the applicants’ usage of various government programs including housing, subsidized health care or food stamps covered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Anti-hunger advocates and Food Bank workers report that many immigrant families are choosing to go hungry rather than use food stamps or register at various food banks for fear of being deported or denied permanent residency or citizenship.

These reports are based not merely on anecdotal evidence. In the most comprehensive study done on the issue, new research presented this month at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting reveals that SNAP usage by immigrant families has fallen dramatically in the past year, after having steadily increased for a decade.

The study, led by Boston Medical Center Deputy Director of Policy Strategy, Allison Bovell-Ammon, surveyed 35,000 mothers with young children in five US cities—Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Little Rock—from 2007 through the first half of 2018. The study found that SNAP participation amongst eligible immigrant families rose steadily in the decade between 2007-2017, regardless of whether the parent had been in the United States for five years or less.

The trend, however, changed dramatically in the first half of 2018. Preliminary survey results showed that only 34.8 percent of families in the US for less than five…

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