President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies have prompted many impoverished people from opting out of necessary federal food assistance because of fear that their relatives may be deported, the AP reports.
While undocumented immigrants are not eligible to participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, U.S.-born Latinxs who come from mixed-status homes, where some family members may be citizens and others undocumented, are hesitant to apply.
Many feel it is too risky. According to the news wire, there have been accounts from all over the nation of people not signing up for food stamps, letting benefits lapse or withdrawing from the program out of this fear.
“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, Calif.
The food stamp program provides those who qualify with monthly payments, typically about $125 per eligible household member, to impoverished families in order for them to buy essential items.
“This means less food on the table, fewer meals in houses where the kids have rights because they are U.S. citizens,” Andrew Hammond, an attorney for Chicago’s Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, said.
While it is not possible to determine the extent to which people are dropping out of the program due to this fear, activists and immigrants believe it’s on the rise.
Similarly, there has been a growth in immigrants not reporting cases of domestic violence and sexual assault because of this same trepidation.