WaPo: Immigrants Are Starving Themselves To Avoid Deportation. Problem: There's No Solid Evidence

Posted: Mar 17, 2017 2:15 PM

The Washington Post is really tugging at the heart strings with this piece about immigrants avoiding applying for food stamps because it might catch the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The new headline is “Immigrants are going hungry so Trump won’t deport them,” which was changed from the initial headline that’s still in the URL: “Immigrants are now canceling their food stamps for fear that Trump will deport them.” Illegal alien households are receiving food stamps. Illegals cannot apply for food stamps for themselves, but they can for their children who are citizens through the 14th Amendment. In the Post article, we can’t even confirm that because the publication admitted that their story is based on anecdotal evidence, and they were unable to talk to any family who purportedly decided to withdraw from the food stamp program (via WaPo) [emphasis mine]:

Luisa Fortin sometimes sits up at night, wondering what her clients are eating. She is the SNAP Outreach Coordinator for the Chattanooga Food Bank — but lately she has done less outreaching.


Since mid-January, five of Fortin’s families have withdrawn from the SNAP program.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.”

Chattanooga is not an outlier here, either.

In the two months since President Trump’s inauguration, food banks and hunger advocates around the country have noted a decline in the number of eligible immigrants applying for SNAP — and an uptick in immigrants seeking to withdraw from the program.

Their fear, advocates say, is that participation could draw the eye of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or hurt their chances of attaining citizenship. Without federal nutrition benefits, many are resorting to food pantries and soup kitchens to feed themselves and their children.

The evidence is still anecdotal — and The Washington Post was unable to speak directly with immigrants who chose to cancel their SNAP benefits.