Immigrants opt out of federal food assistance due to fear of deportation

Some immigrant families are choosing not to sign up for federal food assistance despite their need.

SAN ANTONIO - The West Avenue Compassion pantry and garden is a community space for those in the greatest need. Every Tuesday, families without food can go there and get non-perishable goods from the pantry and can work in the garden to grow their own vegetables.

Many of the families the organization serves are of foreign descent. Some do not have legal residence in the United States and are without jobs and food.

They're among many others in the country who may not qualify for federal food assistance, because of their immigration status. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requires that applicants list that information.

However, West Avenue Compassion does not.

"None of our guidelines require us to know that information, so we do not ask that," Amy Aguinaga with West Avenue Compassion said.

Many immigrant families across the country consist of parents who are illegally in the United States, while their children are American born. However, some legal guardians who have to file for their child to have access to government help, fear that sharing their personal information on benefits documents could get them deported.

Instead, they choose to go hungry.

"Our demographics show that our largest population of where our food goes to is between the ages of one and 18," Aguinaga said. "Kids can't rely on themselves."

© 2017 KENS-TV


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