The Fear of Deportation are Scaring Immigrants Away from Food Stamps in US
President Donald Trump's crackdown on undocumented immigrants has many not participating in the federal food assistance program due to fear of deportation, reports the Associated Press.
Even though undocumented residents in the U.S. are not eligible to take part in what is formerly known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), families with low income that are mixed with undocumented and documented residents usually apply for the program. Typically, parents of children who have citizenship because the child was born in the U.S. and the parents are undocumented would normally apply for assistance.
Many of the undocumented residents believe the risks are too high to sign up for food stamps and let their benefits lapse or even withdraw from the program altogether.
"They don't want to put their name and address on a form for a government public benefit out of fear that they'll be sought out and asked to leave," said Teresa Smith, executive director of Catholic Charities of Orange County, California.
Monthly payments of about $125 per eligible household member from SNAP are essential to help poor families barely get by.
"This means less food in the table, fewer meals in houses where the kids have rights because they are U.S. citizens," said Andrew Hammond, an attorney for Chicago's Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 3.9 million children with citizenship that are living with noncitizen parents receive food stamps in the 2015 fiscal year.
But, most noncitizen parents who qualify for SNAP have historically not applied due to a false perception that their immigration status would be affected or being in the program would hurt their chances of becoming U.S. citizens.
"It is important for non-citizens to know they will not be deported, denied entry to the country, or denied permanent status because they apply for or receive SNAP benefits," the agency's website says.