Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to be a US citizen to qualify for the Food Stamp Program, renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under the politically correct Obama administration. Non-citizens with certain immigration statuses and income limitations do qualify. These rules went partially into effect in 2008 when Obama revised the 2008 Farm Bill and were fully implemented in 2010. For example, illegal alien children under age 18, immigrants seeking asylum, elderly individuals and certain Cuban, Haitian, Iraqi and Afgan immigrants are eligible with no waiting period. Other immigration statuses, such as lawful permanent residents (LPR) with work credits or who have had a green card for five years are eligible after a waiting period.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that in 2015, nearly 5.4 million illegal aliens received food stamps–1.5 million adults and 3.9 million children with citizenship living with non-citizen adults. (Head of household illegal immigrants can apply for food stamps on behalf of eligible citizen dependents; children of undocumented immigrants qualify for SNAP if the child is an LPR or citizen).
With the average benefit per household per month averaging out at $255, the yearly payout of SNAP benefits ranged from $1.4 to $2.14 billion for 2016.
However, the US Department of Agriculture states that the number of illegal aliens taking advantage of SNAP is low because they either don’t know about the program, or they think participation will negatively affect their immigration status.
Under Obama, overall SNAP participation for all enrollees, citizen or not, increased by 70 percent from 2008 to 2013.
Now it appears that both legal and illegal aliens are rapidly cancelling their SNAP benefits out of fear that being in the program will catch the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and hurt their chances for citizenship under the Trump administration.
Since inauguration day in January, food banks and other administrators of the SNAP program have reported a noticeable an increase in immigrants withdrawing from the program and a decline in immigrants signing up for the program. Without the SNAP benefit, soup kitchens and food pantries nationwide have seen a marked increase in people seeking them out for meals for themselves and their children.
A spokesperson from the National Immigration Law Center said that the decline in SNAP participation reflects the Trump administration’s environment of fear-mongering, even though these fears are unfounded.
SNAP information is confidential and not reported to any of the immigration services, and case managers are required to help someone apply by providing an interpreter to non-English speakers.