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January 28, 2020
New Immigration Rule Will Increase Food Insecurity and Harm Immigrant Families

On August 12, 2019, The Trump Administration released their final version of changes to the "public charge" rule, adding SNAP participation as a consideration against those seeking a green card, an extension or a change to their temporary status in the US. In October, judges in three states issued temporary injunctions preventing the rule from being enforced until legal challenges were resolved. However, on January 27th, the Supreme Court of the United States voted to allow the “public charge” rule to implemented. This decision does not invalidate the legal challenges still pending in lower courts. 

Statement of Erin McAleer, President of Project Bread, regarding the Trump administration’s ‘public charge’ rule.

As a statewide anti-hunger organization committed to preventing and ending hunger in Massachusetts, we are disappointed and gravely concerned to learn that the final rule released today includes participation the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as part of the criteria used to determine one’s status as a “public charge”. This represents a drastic change from a longstanding policy in our country and is the latest in a long line of attacks by this administration on the immigrant community.

When the Trump Administration first proposed these changes in October 2018, Project Bread anticipated a “chilling-effect,” or a reduction in immigrant families participating in public benefit programs, including SNAP, out of fear of compromising their immigration status. Through our FoodSource Hotline and SNAP assistance work in Community Health Centers, we have seen this become reality for many families who are now reluctant to access food assistance programs, even when it means not having enough groceries to make it through the week. 

Federal nutrition programs like SNAP are designed to lift people from poverty and food insecurity, including those who come to the United States seeking a better life for themselves and their families. This rule makes it more difficult for low-income immigrants to afford food. Reducing participation in the country’s most effective anti-hunger program does not help anyone. The rule will result in more people in Massachusetts struggling without enough to eat and will further widen the income gap in our state. 

Project Bread will continue to advocate for systemic solutions and broad policy change aimed at eradicating food insecurity for all Massachusetts residents, including our immigrant neighbors. For Massachusetts residents looking for food resources in their community, please call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333.

Author(s): Erin McAleer

Filed under: Informing Public Policy, Get Involved, News and Events, Donor, For the Media