Struggling to Put Food on the Table This Thanksgiving: Study Says Immigrants Dropping Out of Food Stamps

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, immigrants are increasingly having to make tough choices because of fear over potential changes to public charge rules. This is clearly demonstrated by the sharp drop in immigrant families participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, the first such change in 10 years, according to recently published research.

The study, presented last week at a conference hosted by the American Public Health Association, surveyed 35,000 mothers across the United States, revealing a 10 percent drop in the first half of 2018 of enrollment in SNAP for immigrant families who have been in the U.S. for less than five years. It’s a disastrous departure from the study’s findings that from 2007 through 2017, participation in the program had consistently risen.

“Some immigrant families may be forced to make agonizing choices between enrolling in critical nutrition programs and jeopardizing their future immigration status. These tradeoffs are likely to have a negative impact on children’s and families’ health,” stated Allison Bovell-Ammon, lead researcher of the study and Deputy Director of Policy Strategy for Boston Medical Center’s Children’s HealthWatch.

The data speaks to what immigrant advocates had feared: Trump’s mere announcement of potential changes to public charge rules would spark dropouts from vitally necessary public programs for immigrant families. As it stands now, the proposed changes to public charge have not yet been implemented.

According to a new report released by the Fiscal Policy Institute, 2.1 million people in New York state alone could be directly impacted if the changes go through, including 680,000 children. They also estimated that even at the lowest rate of disenrollment, New Yorkers could stand to lose $1.1 billion in federal funds.

Submit your comment to help stop the proposed changes to public charge by visiting for guidelines and templates. The public comment period lasts until December 10. Visit the New York Immigration Coalition’s public charge page for more information.

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