Saturday, March 25, 2017

Immigrants -- Including Legal Immigrants -- Afraid to Access Public Benefit Safety Net

Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about how, due to fears of removals, lawful immigrants are deciding to go hungry rather than access public benefits.  Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic reports that, across the country, a climate of fear—sparked by Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, a series of highly public raids, and a draft executive order that would push families off of means-tested benefit programs—has spooked families away from the safety net. Of the 20 organizations working with documented and undocumented immigrants that Lowrey spoke with in recent weeks, 17 said they had seen legally eligible families declining to enroll or even unenrolling from programs, including SNAP, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, free school lunches, and the Women, Infants, and Children program.

“The immigration-enforcement order created chaos and fear,” said Wendy Cervantes of CLASP, an anti-poverty nonprofit, referring to a Trump initiative to ramp up deportations. “The fear of immigration enforcement creates a chilling effect. We’ve seen seen this in states that have passed really aggressive and harsh anti-immigrant laws at a local level, and now we might be seeing it nationally.”


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