Immigrants living in the U.S. illegally aren’t applying for food stamps because they fear possible deportation under President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, the Associated Press reports.
“I had been told that it’s OK to apply for food stamps,” one woman in New York, who asked to remain anonymous, told the AP Tuesday. “But, for the moment, I don’t want to take any risks.”
Undocumented aliens are not eligible to receive food stamps but may apply for benefits for their children, who are automatically eligible for food benefits regardless of when or how they came to the U.S.
Non-citizens “will not be deported, denied entry to the country, or denied permanent status because they apply for or receive SNAP benefits,” the Department of Agriculture (USDA) says.
Deportations during Trump’s first 100 days in office were 38 percent higher than the same period in 2016, USA Today reports.
Still, many undocumented residents fear that applying for food stamps, where the applicant must note his or her immigration status, will put them in a government system and alert the Department of Homeland Security.
The issue is complicated because while adult illegal residents are not eligible to receive food stamps, they may apply on behalf of their children and list their own immigration status. The USDA says that state health agencies, which make initial SNAP eligibility determinations, are only required to report illegal immigrants who seek and receive food stamps for themselves.