In September, the Administration made a troubling proposal that would increase the likelihood of legal immigrant families becoming food insecure.

Under current policy, an immigrant may be denied legal permanent residency if they demonstrate a likelihood of becoming dependent on government benefits, also known as a public charge. Officials make this determination by considering whether or not an individual receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits or Medicaid long-term care.

 

The proposed rule would extend the public charge test to include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), effectively punishing legal immigrants if they receive food assistance by jeopardizing their ability to stay in the United States.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank opposes this rule because no one should have to choose between food – which empowers people and makes all of our communities stronger – and the preservation of legal status. If enacted, this rule would discourage struggling families from accessing vital nutrition assistance, ultimately increasing hunger and making our network’s efforts to fight it that much more difficult.

Before the new rule can go forward, the Administration is required to offer the public a comment period and to read every unique comment they receive about it.

In order to stand by the seniors, children, and hard-working families whom this rule may impact, we have joined Feeding America, other food banks across the nation, and thousands of other individuals and organizations in submitting comments and communicating our opposition to the Administration’s proposal.

Read our official comment below, and consider joining us by submitting a comment here. The comment period ends Monday, December 10.

Meanwhile we will continue fighting hunger and striving for a more food secure future for all of our neighbors. Together – regardless of our where we come from – we can build a stronger, healthier bi-state region where no one goes to bed hungry.

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Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Department of Homeland Security’s Proposed Rule: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds. I am writing on behalf of the St. Louis Area Foodbank to express our opposition to the proposed rule because of its impact on legal immigrant families and their increased likelihood of food insecurity. We strongly urge the administration to rescind this rule.

The new rule would punish immigrants if they receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by jeopardizing their ability to stay in the United States – hurting the ability of our friends and neighbors to put food on the table. As a member of the Feeding America food bank network and as our region’s largest food distribution charity dedicated to feeding those in need, we understand how important it is to the health and well-being of our communities to preserve people’s access to basic resources like food. We also understand how vital the government’s partnership is in fighting hunger. Federal nutrition programs like SNAP were designed by Congress to support the work organizations like ours are doing by providing critical resources for all citizens and eligible legal immigrants when they fall on hard times, and eligibility for those programs reflects that intent. This rule undermines congressional intent and our longstanding federal commitment to helping those who struggle to have enough healthy food.

Worse yet, the new rule will create another hurdle in the fight to end hunger by generating fear and confusion that may dissuade immigrant communities – regardless of whether they are impacted by the rule – from seeking needed food in the first place. The St. Louis Area Foodbank distributes food to nearly 500 community partners, from soup kitchens and food pantries to health clinics and residential programs, across the 26 Missouri and Illinois counties we serve. Forcing legal immigrants to forgo SNAP in order to protect their residency or citizenship status will increase hunger in these communities and put even more pressure on our network of partners.

The mission of the St. Louis Area Foodbank is to build stronger communities by empowering people with food and hope. We do this work alongside hundreds of partners and thousands of volunteers because of our collective commitment to building a stronger, healthier bi-state region where no one goes to bed hungry.

This proposed rule threatens this work by jeopardizing the futures of families working towards the American dream. We ask that the Administration join us in fighting hunger and withdraw its proposal.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments. If we can be a resource to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to provide further information.