Our latest chapter in the ongoing saga of how President Trump’s immigration policies are destroying the world is once again brought to us by the Washington Post. This time it has to do with “immigrant families” who are asking to have their food stamp benefits (SNAP) canceled to avoid scrutiny by immigration enforcement officials. This somewhat dubiously sourced story deals with a relative handful of people which the media would clearly love to paint as some sort of growing trend. But it also curiously encompasses two different categories of immigrants.
Our tale opens with an account from Luisa Fortin, a SNAP outreach coordinator in Georgia.
Since mid-January, five of Fortin’s families have withdrawn from the SNAP program. One, the single mother of three citizen daughters, had fled to Georgia to escape an abusive husband. Another, two green-card holders with four young children, were thinking of taking on third jobs to compensate for the lost benefits. These families represent a small fraction of Fortin’s caseload — she estimates she has signed 200 immigrant families up for SNAP over the past six months — but based on the calls she gets from other clients, she fears more cancellations are imminent.
“I get calls from concerned parents all the time: ‘should I take my kids out of the program?’” Fortin said. “They’re risking hunger out of fear … and my heart just breaks for them.”
The reason I specified “two different categories” of immigrants can be found right in that first paragraph. Notice how the author describes a “single mother of three citizen children.” Why would anyone go to the trouble of specifying that the children are citizens unless the underlying assumption is that the mother is not? It is, as the article helpfully notes, against the law for illegal immigrants to collect SNAP benefits. (And I’m sure we’re all quite positive that that never happens. Perish the thought.) But the children most certainly can qualify if the family is in financial distress. The reality, of course, is that everyone in the family is realizing those benefits even if they are only being awarded in the names of the children.