Summary: Hunger or Deportation: Implications of the Trump Administration’s Proposed Public Charge Rule

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal nutrition assistance program in the country, providing food to more than 40 million individuals, approximately half of whom are children.1
  • In September 2018, the Trump Administration proposed the “Public Charge” rule which would deny a path to citizenship for immigrants (lawfully-present or not) who participate in certain federal safety net programs, including SNAP.2,3

What are the implications of the Trump Administration’s proposed “Public Charge” rule?

Dr. Bleich and Dr. Fleischhacker published a perspective piece in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior about the possible implications of the Trump Administration’s proposed “Public Charge” rule. 

The authors describe the three main consequences: decreasing participation in government assistance programs, increasing food insecurity and worsening health outcomes, and straining the charitable food sector and the healthcare system. For example, if implemented, the “Public Charge” rule has the potential to significantly decrease participation in the safety net programs, likely exceeding the number of people who are subject to the rule (which is estimated to be 382,000).4

They also suggest a number of action areas for those with professional interest in promoting effective nutrition education and healthy behavior among individuals who will potentially be affected by the proposed rule. These actions include: incorporating hunger and food insecurity screenings in clinical or community practice; disseminating best practices for addressing food insecurity; and identifying best practices for building and maintaining trust with those effects to facilitate participation among those who are lawfully eligible.4

Interested in learning more? Click here for the full-text article.


  1. US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Policy Support. Current perspectives on SNAP participation: trends in supplemental nutrition assistance participation rates: fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2016.
  2. White House. Immigration.
  3. Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds. 8 CFR Parts 103, 212, 213, 245 and 248 [CIS No. 2499-10; DNS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012] RIN 1615-AA22.
  4. Bleich, S. N., & Fleischhacker, S. (2019). Hunger or Deportation: Implications of the Trump Administration’s Proposed Public Charge Rule. J Nutr Educ Behav. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.01.019