Feeding America Statement On Department Of Homeland Security Final Rule To Expand Public Charge

Attributed to Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer

August 12, 2019

“As the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States, we at Feeding America are concerned that the Department of Homeland Security’s final rule to broaden the definition of public benefits included in public charge determinations will increase hunger in this country.  By adding participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to the list of factors that may be negatively counted against individuals seeking lawful residency or citizenship – even when those individuals are legally entitled to that assistance – this rule will create an impossible choice for people struggling to put food on the table. Moreover, the proposal has already created fear and confusion, dissuading immigrant communities – regardless of whether they are impacted by the rule – from seeking food assistance of any kind. 

“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. Before this rule, only the receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits and Medicaid long-term care were considered during case evaluation. This rule will broaden the definition of public charge to include whether an individual received certain additional public services including food assistance through SNAP.

“This policy creates another hurdle in the fight to end hunger, with food assistance threatening an individual’s lawful residency or citizenship. It will increase hardship in immigrant communities. We greatly urge the Administration to rescind this rule and allow legal immigrant families to seek the food assistance they need without fear of retribution.”


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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.