The Federal government recently announced that it will move forward with the implementation of new rules on October 15 that will make it more difficult for immigrant families to get the food assistance they need.


  • ​​The rule will impact legal immigrant families and increase their likelihood of being food insecure.
  • For the first time, accessing food assistance through SNAP would threaten an individual’s lawful residency and citizenship
  • SNAP was designed by Congress to be there for immigrants during difficult times, and eligibility reflects that intent; this rule would roll back that longstanding principle by penalizing individuals for their legally-authorized use of SNAP benefits.
  • SNAP is the only federal nutrition program that would be added to the list of programs considered in a public charge determination. 


On Aug. 12, Feeding America issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“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.”

To learn more about the potential impact of this rule and learn how you can help, visit

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