Emily Pickren

Statement attributed to James D. Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center  

WASHINGTON, October 11, 2018 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) strongly opposes the proposed public charge rule published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2018. The rule would greatly undercut efforts to address food insecurity and poverty by making it harder for immigrant families to access a range of nutrition, health, and human services programs that are essential to our nation’s health and well-being.

Under the proposed rule, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), our nation’s first-line of defense against hunger, is included as a public benefit that could trigger a public charge determination.

SNAP is not the only critical program at risk. The deeply flawed rule unravels longstanding, sound public policy that draws a clear line between the nutrition, health, housing and other public benefits that may be used without causing public charge consequences, and those that may not. This rule dramatically expands the list of programs to be considered for a public charge determination.

Under the proposed rule, immigrant families would be forced to make impossible choices between accessing vital programs that safeguard their health, nutrition, housing, and economic security and keeping their family together in the United States.

The proposed rule that originally appeared on the Department of Homeland Security’s website highlighted some of the likely consequences on p. 370:
There are a number of consequences that could occur…Worse health outcomes, including increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, or children, and reduced prescription adherence; …and increased rates of poverty.”

Let’s be clear. No low-income people who are eligible for anti-hunger programs should be deterred, penalized, stigmatized, or suffer adverse immigration consequences for their legally authorized use of public benefits.

Together with the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Campaign, we are mobilizing a nationwide effort to collect large numbers of comments from all sectors of society to demonstrate the public’s condemnation of this attack on the nation’s health and well-being. We have released comment toolkit to assist the public in drafting comments on how this rule will make hunger and poverty in this country far worse. We have also launched a platform through which the public can submit comments directly to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The deadline to submit comments is Monday, December 10, 2018.

We must act now to send a clear message to the Trump Administration: no one should have to choose between food and family.


The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.