By HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH
September 07, 2018
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today he’s not aware of reports that immigrant families are dropping out of a nutrition program for pregnant women and young children for fear they could be denied green cards, but he indicated the department would look into it.
“I’ve not seen the data on this. It’s not been reported to me what’s been reported in the press regarding the non-participation there,” Perdue said during an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”
“I would be concerned about that, obviously,” Perdue said. “We’ll look into that further.”
The question to Perdue comes after POLITICO reported that immigrants are dropping out of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children over fears the Trump administration could one day bar them from getting a green card or even a visa if they take federal aid under a “public charge” rule DHS is mulling.
The Trump administration hasn’t yet proposed a change in policy, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.
Perdue said it’s crucial the government strike the right balance with public nutrition programs. Americans are “some of the most compassionate, generous people in the world,” he said, but taxpayers are also concerned about how funds are spent.
“We do not want immigrants, particularly those who are coming undocumented or illegally into the country, to come in and take advantage of the programs that the taxpayers are providing there,” Perdue said. “But when it comes to women and children, I think we have to lean on the side of compassion.”
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