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How A Rule Change Takes Food From Needy Families

Immigrants and refugees have been hit hard by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. Buying healthy food is more of a challenge than ever. For some, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) can mean the difference between a meal or an empty plate. 

Unfortunately, the recent expansion of “public charge” makes receiving SNAP benefits a dilemma for many immigrants. Public charge is an old law that allows immigration officers to deny permanent residence to applicants who if they believe are likely to become dependent on government assistance.  The new rules from earlier this year have drastically changed how that decision is made and require that legal benefits such as SNAP must be counted in determining if an immigrant is likely to become a public charge.  You can learn more about public chargehere.

The job losses due to Coronavirus have made SNAP more important than ever for struggling families, including many in the immigrant community. At this time of greatest need, the new version of public charge means some families are faced with the heartbreaking choice of using SNAP to provide food for their children now, or go without to improve their chances of getting a green card, a wait that can be years. The result: a sicker, hungrier, poorer nation, and an enormous step backward from achieving health equity.

It’s important to understand that public charge does not apply to everyone who hopes to get a green card. Those here under refugee status, for example, are typically exempt. Also, testing and treatment for COVID-19 are not counted under public charges. You can find more about exemptions and other details around public charge atKeepYourBenefits.organ informative site written by immigration attorneys.  There’s a Spanish language version of the sitehere.

For local information,SomosDaytonis a wonderful site about Dayton resources in Spanish created by former HHI VISTA Stephanie Patino-Garfias.

At the Hall Hunger Initiative, we believe that food is a basic human right and parents should never be forced to sacrifice feeding their children in hopes of a green card in the future.  We will partner with our immigrant community to create a just and equitable food system that works for everyone.

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