Immigrant Families Fear Government Assistance

February 12, 2019

Philadelphia deportation lawyers assist immigrants and their families.Pressures from the Trump administration may be forcing immigrants to shy away from seeking food stamps and other forms of government assistance. According to recent studies, some immigrant families that are entitled to benefits have stopped participating. One reason is that they may feel that applying for federal assistance programs puts them at risk.

Trump’s past actions have demonstrated his anti-immigration stance; in 2018, among other issues, immigrant children were separated from their parents upon entering the United States. According to the Daily Beast, the numbers of immigrants being detained has been steadily climbing. This can all be contributing to the immigrants’ fear of putting their names on application forms. In fact, a Pew Research Center study reported that as many as two-thirds fear deportation.


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a public program that provides nutrition assistance to eligible low-income families and individuals. SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program, works with other agencies to help those that are eligible receive their benefits.

Although many people believe that immigrants take advantage of programs like SNAP, a study by the CATO Institute showed that native born U.S. citizens actually use more public assistance than immigrants.

SNAP benefits are used to purchase food items like meat, poultry and fish; produce; dairy products; cereals and breads; and plants or seeds that can grow food. Contrary to what some believe, the benefits cannot be used to buy alcohol, tobacco, or nonfood items like paper products, pet food, and household supplies.

The HeatlhWatch Survey

A survey by Boston Medical Center’s Children’s HealthWatch found that SNAP participation by eligible immigrants who have been in this country for less than five years decreased by almost 10 percent from January to June of 2018. For immigrant families who have been here longer than that, the participation rate fell by two percent.

A UnidosUS (formerly La Raza) health policy worker commented on this research, stating that these immigrants feel targeted by the President. He emphasized that immigrants and their families are in fear of participating in these public programs; many believe that they will be punished for applying for the benefits.

More Regulations May Be on the Way

Although nothing is definite, Trump’s administration is continually looking into additional policy measures that may affect immigrants. A draft regulation is in the works, which could affect how the government decides how immigrants receive public assistance. This may also apply to housing benefits, low-income subsidies, and Medicaid. It could also have an immigrant’s visa or green card status.

If passed, this new regulation could lead to even more of the nation’s 5.2 to 16.2 million immigrant population avoiding or dropping out of public assistance programs.

Philadelphia Deportation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Assist Immigrants and Their Families

Government assistance should not be a threat to a family’s immigration status. If you are having difficulties with immigration laws and deportation issues, we can help. Contact the experienced, compassionate Philadelphia deportation lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. We represent clients in Pennsylvania, the tri-state area, New Jersey, and nationally. Call our Philadelphia office at 215-496-0690 or contact us online.