U.S. citizen kids eligible for food assistance programs may be going hungry because their immigrant parents have canceled their enrollment out of fear of falling onto the radar of Donald Trump’s deportation force:
Officials at Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, Md., report that about 20 percent of the 561 families they have helped apply for food stamps, or SNAP benefits, in the past few months have asked that their cases be closed.
Maria Chavez, an outreach worker for Manna, says her immigrant clients are scared, especially if they're unauthorized parents getting SNAP benefits for their eligible American children.
"They say, 'I want to close my food stamp.' And I say, 'Why you want to close it?' They say, 'Well, because I am afraid that something [will] happen to me or they [will] deport me,' " says Chavez.
Jim Wengler, director of benefits access at Hunger Free New York City, says fewer immigrants have also been showing up recently at the 20 sites his group serves around the city. And he says some noncitizens — even those in the country legally — want all of their government benefits canceled, including Medicaid.
“Which is really frightening because these are families that are often working minimum-wage jobs, trying to raise children, trying to do the right thing, and with the help of these benefits are getting by. But without them, [they] will be in a really desperate situation," Wengler says.
No matter what Trump or anyone from Breitbart tries to tell you, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for public assistance. However, their U.S. citizens kids are, just like any other citizen of this country. But fear has been a feature, not a bug, of Trump’s campaign and administration, and now undocumented parents—even parents with legal status—are making a horrific decision between their kids going hungry or possibly getting torn apart. This is how Trump wants to make America great again?
"There's so much misinformation that it's creating a lot of anxiety among all immigrants right now," says Matthew Lopas, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, which is trying to allay people's fears. "Nothing in the law has changed as of now, and there's certainly no danger at this point in using programs for which a person is eligible."
But undocumented immigrants have seen the numerous reports of moms, dads, U.S. Army veterans, and Dreamers getting ripped away from their families and homes, despite Trump’s claim that his deportation force would target dangerous criminals and so-called “bad hombres” for arrest and deportation.
Perhaps the very first high-profile deportation of his administration was that of Guadalupe García de Rayos, an Arizona mom. Despite the fact that she had lived in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, Guadalupe was torn from her two U.S. citizen kids and deported to Mexico. Her crime? Using a fake ID in order to work and support her family. Immigrants, always scapegoated as moochers, are getting punished for trying to be the exact opposite.
While other undocumented parents are afraid of becoming the next Guadalupe, it’s kids who are going to suffer the most in this Trump era. There’s already reports of children skipping school out of fear of ICE raids, and of babies not getting proper medical attention because their undocumented mothers are giving birth at home in order to avoid revealing their immigration status. Now kids who are eligible for food programs are going hungry.
Remember all this the next time someone tries to tell you the GOP is the pro-life party of family values.