Immigrant food stamp use plummeted after Trump took office

by H. Claire Brown in New Food Economy

It’s no secret that the Trump administration has long wanted to minimize the number of people who use food stamps. It ha supported that would impose strict work requirements on people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Internal emails from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in April suggested that the agency may allow states to drug-test food aid applicants. And the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month published rules that say food stamp use will be a “heavily” weighted factor when considering applications for green cards. 

That last rule hasn’t even gone into effect yet. But new research shows it might not matter. Preliminary data from a survey of more than 35,000 mothers of young children indicate a nearly 10 percent drop in SNAP enrollment among immigrant families who are eligible.

The findings, presented Monday at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting, found that immigrant mothers’ participation in SNAP steadily increased from 2007 to 2017. Then, in the first half of 2018, the numbers suddenly dropped—by a lot. In 2017, 43 percent of eligible families who had been in the country for less than five years were participating in the program. By mid-2018, that figure had plummeted to 34.8 percent. 

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