Food & Justice News Aug 12th, 2019
- Trump Administration Double Attack on Immigrants and SNAP:
a) Trump Admin to Implement New Public Charge Rules Against Immigrants Who May Need Food, Health Care or Housing
b) Trump Administration Proposes Cuts in SNAP Food Assistance: Public Comment Period of 60 Days Ends September 23rd
- Hunger Action LA Community Food Policy Meeting: Thursday September 5th, 2 pm-4pm
- SB 285 (Wiener): Show Your Support for Improved Access to CalFresh, Contact Key Assemblymembers This Week
Trump Administration Double Attack on Immigrants and SNAP:
a) Trump Admin to Implement New Public Charge Rules Against Immigrants Who May Need Food, Health Care, or Housing
Legal immigrants who use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — could have a tougher time obtaining a green card or ultimately U.S. citizenship under a policy change announced Monday that is at the center of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce immigration. The new ruling on “Public Charge” is scheduled to take effect October 15. The ruling was issued about a year after being published as a proposal, with the public invited to comment. Over 250,000 comments were received, mostly in opposition to making it harder for someone to get a green card if they’ve used health care, food or other benefits.
The new policy for “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” appeared Monday on the Federal Register’s website. It sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration has been seeking to limit those immigrants who might draw on taxpayer-funded benefits, such as many of those who have been fleeing Central America, while allowing more highly skilled and wealthy immigrants into the United States:
The Trump administration will broaden the public charge definition to encompass not just those primarily dependent on public assistance programs, but anyone who uses a public benefit at all, including publicly funded health care programs including Medicaid, food stamps, other nutrition-related programs, or housing assistance.
While “Public Charge” rules have existed for decades, they’ve been limited in scope in recent years to only include cash benefits and long term medical care. The broadened policy will include programs that help millions of immigrants, the majority of them working, to access health care and sufficient food. Because of the rules, people will hesitate to apply for benefits they may need, in order to preserve their chance at becoming a legal U.S. resident.
Already the rumors and early releases of this proposal, as far back as 2017, have had a chilling effect on participation by immigrants in programs such as SNAP (“food stamps.”). According to an analysis by the New York City Department of Social Services and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs:
“While we cannot definitively prove that the public charge proposal has caused these changes to SNAP participation, we identify an important correlation that, reinforced by anecdotal and survey evidence, suggests a chilling effect: eligible immigrant families are avoiding SNAP out of fear of potential immigration consequences,”
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has already announced its intent to file a legal challenge to this new regulation.
The Western Center on Law and Poverty issued a statement and emphasizes that the rule will go into effect October 15 unless litigation succeeds in halting it.
Here are recommended actions for more information:
Visit the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign website for fact sheets, community flyers, and more public charge details: https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/community-education-resources/
Contact the Health Consumer Alliance if you are worried about how your access to health care may impact your family’s immigration status: https://healthconsumer.org/
Find a trustworthy immigration attorney for individual counseling at the organizations on this list: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Benefits-Services/More-Services/Immigration-Services/Immigration-Services-Contractors
b) Trump Administration Proposes Cuts in SNAP Food Assistance: Public Comment Period of 60 Days Ends September 23rd
The Trump administration, in addition to the Public Charge rule which would punish immigrants who lawfully receive benefits by withholding legal permanent residency, also wants to cut food stamps (SNAP) off from 3 million people by getting rid of a rule that lets some people with kids get the benefit even if their income is over the usual limit (But still UNDER 185% of poverty, which is still pretty broke, especially in LA with housing costs and child care.) Eliminating this proposed rule might also end school meals for half a million kids in the US, through enrollment procedures that connect SNAP enrollment to school meals.
Trump’s US Department of Agriculture is submitting this proposed rule change, but we can OPPOSE it for until September 23 by submitting comments by email. Comments can be submitted at the federal regulations website, but Food Research and Action Center has created a more user friendly form through which comments can be sent and relayed to the federal government. Use the form at this link to submit a comment opposing a proposal to amend a SNAP categorical eligibility rule:
Written comments must be received on or before September 23, 2019 to be assured of consideration.
Here is a link to the proposed change:
What is the current rule?
Under a rule passed many years ago, SNAP benefits can be automatically available to people who receive other federally funded benefits, especially TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families---known as CalWORKs here in California.) This allows people who are still low income, but are over the usual income limit for SNAP, to get food assistance.
The rule is known as “Categorical Eligibility.” Forty states and the District of Columbia currently use the Categorical Eligibility rule, and allow participants in some federally funded welfare programs to automatically receive food stamps as long as their income is less than double the poverty level.
What is the proposed change?
The Trump administration rule would limit states’ ability to enroll recipients earning more than 130% of the federal poverty guidelines -- in most cases capping eligibility to an annual income of $32,640 for a family of four. This could cut 3 million people nationwide off of benefits.
Who benefits from the current rule?
It’s an especially helpful rule for families that have been getting cash welfare, but are working their way off the program (as they are required to do.) Such families often are only able to get part time work that pays just enough that they wouldn’t usually qualify for SNAP. And they have expenses like child care, which they need in order to be able to keep working.
Add to that the expenses of daily life---gasoline, high rents, and medical debt among other things---and it’s easy to see how someone who’s over the usual SNAP income limit could have expenses so high that they still need food assistance.
For example, here in California it’s estimated by Western Center on Law and Poverty that 120,000 Californians who are below 200% of the poverty level, most of them working families, could have benefits cut off. Worse, because of other rules that allow children to be directly enrolled into free school meals if their families are getting SNAP through Categorical Eligibility, 170,000 kids may lose those meals.
Hunger Action LA Community Food Policy Meeting: Thursday September 5th, 2 pm-4pm
Save the date for a community meeting open to the public on food policy issues in the state, sponsored by Hunger Action LA:
- How has the Trump administration attempted to change policy on food benefits and how can we stop it from destroying them?
- How has the rollout of CalFresh benefits for SSI recipients been proceeding and what more is needed?
- What state legislation might still be in play (see SB 285 in the next item) and how can we help it?
- WIC is changing from a paper voucher system to an EBT system over the next few months. How will this affect customers, stores and farmers markets?
Where: St. Mary’s Church, 961 S Mariposa Ave LA CA 90006 (Parking at 960 S Normandie one block in the back of the church, @ Normandie & San Marino)
When: Thursday September 5, 2 pm to 4 pm
SB 285 (Wiener): Show Your Support for Improved Access to CalFresh, Contact Key Assemblymembers This Week
(Relayed from our colleagues at California Food Policy Advocates)
SB 285 needs your support to clear its next legislative hurdle, the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Join CFPA and our partners in asking the Committee to move the bill forward to the Assembly Floor!
SB 285 establishes clear goals to improve CalFresh access, starting with enrolling at least 75% of seniors and disabled SSI recipients who became eligible on June 1st. The bill ensures that all applicants will have efficient and equitable access to CalFresh, regardless of where they live or their individual life circumstances. The bill is sponsored by CFPA, SF-Marin Food Bank, AARP-CA, and the California Association of Food Banks.
And check out our newest one-pager, CalFresh Voices, to learn from CalFresh applicants and recipients themselves, in their own words, about how important CalFresh is to maintaining their health and wellbeing.
Your Support is Needed to Keep SB 285 Moving Forward!
1) Take Action Today!
Call and/or email the following Assemblymembers. Prioritize your outreach to Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-80), the Chair of the Committee on Appropriations and Anthony Rendon (D-63), Speaker of the Assembly. This should take you just a few minutes.
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Chair (D-80) (619) 338-8090
Anthony Rendon, Speaker (D - 63) (562) 529-3250
Please also spend a few minutes contacting your local Assemblymember, if they are listed below as a committee member (This list includes only the LA area members)
- Richard Bloom (D-50) (916) 651-2050
- Ian C. Calderon (D-57) (916) 651-2057
- Wendy Carrillo (D-51) (916) 651-2051
- Ed Chau (D-49) (916) 651-2049
- Jesse Gabriel (D-45) (916) 651-2045
- Eduardo Garcia (D-56) (916) 651-2056
Sample call/email script:
Hello. My name is ________. I live in ______, CA. I am calling to ask Asssemblymember ______ to support SB 285 which would improve access to CalFresh, our most powerful anti-hunger and anti-poverty program. [choose one or more of the following reasons or tell them your own]
- Californians struggling to make ends meet deserve meaningful access to CalFresh. We need to set statewide goals and track progress to make meaningful improvements.
- Together, we can do the work to make CalFresh work for everyone, regardless of where they live or their individual circumstances. SB 285 provides a roadmap for success.
- Over 500,000 SSI recipients just became eligible for CalFresh. Now is the time to ensure that all eligible Californians, especially seniors and people with disabilities, can access CalFresh simply and with dignity.
2) Get Loud on Social Media!
Sample tweets (tag members of the Appropriations Committee)
- Californians struggling to make ends meet deserve a simpler way to enroll in CalFresh. We need statewide goals for equitable access. Plz support SB 285, @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd@CAgovernor
- Together, we can do the work to make CalFresh work for everyone, regardless of where they live or their individual circumstances. SB 285 provides a roadmap for success. Plz support SB 285! @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd @CAgovernor
- When only one in five eligible low-income seniors can access CalFresh, it's time for change. SB 285 lays out a an achievable plan to improve CalFresh enrollment, especially for seniors. Plz support SB 285! @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd @CAgovernor
- Over 500,000 SSI recipients just became eligible for CalFresh. Now is the time to ensure that all Californians, especially seniors and people with disabilities, can access CalFresh simply and with dignity. Plz support SB 285! @LorenaAD80 @Rendon63rd @CAgovernor
3) Learn more and stay up to date at cfpa.net/sb285, by following @CAFoodPolicy, and by signing up for CFPA's Action Alerts.