Feeding America Statement on Public Charge Rule

Attributed to Matt Knott, President of Feeding America

September 23, 2018

CHICAGO – “This past weekend, the Administration announced a deeply troubling proposal to change the way families in this country access food assistance. The proposed executive action will impact legal immigrant families and increase their likelihood of being food insecure. 

“Currently, federal immigration policy allows officials to deny entry, or legal permanent residency, to immigrants on the basis that they are likely to become a public charge, or dependent on government benefits as their main source of support. To make this determination, officials consider the only receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits and Medicaid long-term care during case evaluation. Assessing under a narrow scope ensures that everyone in the United States with legal status can receive essential services, such as nutrition benefits, without fear of jeopardizing their standing in this country.

“The proposed rule departs significantly from longstanding precedent by broadening the definition of public charge to include whether an individual received certain public services, such as food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Effectively, this creates another hurdle in the fight to end hunger, with food assistance threatening an individual’s lawful residency or citizenship. In addition, it will create fear and confusion that may dissuade immigrant communities – regardless of whether they are impacted by the rule – from seeking food assistance of any kind. 

“Federal nutrition programs were designed by Congress to be there for citizens and legal immigrants during difficult times, and eligibility for those programs reflects that intent. For the people eligible for this assistance, tying their participation to their ability to reside lawfully in this country would roll back this longstanding principle. 

“On behalf of our network of 200 food banks and 60,000 meal programs nationwide, Feeding America opposes this misguided policy and urges the Administration to rescind this rule.”


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About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 6.6 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.