Immigrants Drop Out of Public Nutrition Services for Fear of Government Reprisals

Immigrants who are going through the process of obtaining permanent legal residency or even U.S. citizenship have been dropping out of public nutrition programs at an alarmingly high rate since Trump took office. Although the Trump administration has not yet enacted any such policy changes, immigrants fear that participation in these programs will jeopardize their pending applications or even put them at risk of deportation. These programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as food banks.

A leaked draft of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal states that immigration officials would factor in an immigrant’s use of these benefits, including SNAP, WIC, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program when deciding whether to approve the immigrant’s pending visa or green card application. This is the based on long-standing regulation that any immigrant seeking an adjustment of status, such those seeking green cards, must prove that he or she is not likely to become a public charge at any time or rely heavily on long-term government assistance. DHS has not commented on the timeline of this regulation or the likelihood of it being put into practice.

A National Academies of Science survey shows that over 45% of immigrant-headed households with children use some sort of nutrition assistance program. The vast majority of the children in these households are American citizens.

At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we know that immigrant children and families, like many American families, need access to public nutrition services without fear of being singled out for deportation. We are skilled at representing immigrants just like you in immigration court, where we appear on a regular basis. We know how to gather the facts that are relevant to your case, assess your options, and determine whether you have any legal defenses that may enable you to avoid deportation and remain in the United States. Contact the Oakland immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we potentially can help you and your family through this difficult situation.

 

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