Advocates scramble to fill needs of low-income immigrants
PHOENIX, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Advocates say new guidelines disqualifying people who use government benefits from receiving green cards are prompting many immigrants to stop using social services all together.
Representatives of legal services across the country say even citizens and legal immigrants have stopped using their benefits because they're afraid they'll be kicked out of the country.
The new guidelines took effect Monday. They're designed to determine whether immigrants may become a burden on the government. The Trump administration says the rules will make immigrants more self-sufficient while protecting American taxpayers.
However, legal advocates say the rules only increase hardship for those among this traditionally low-income segment of the population. The guidelines don't apply to programs for pregnant women and children, like WIC and Head Start. Still non-profits say they're seeing a significant drop in immigrant participation in such programs.
A manager at one Phoenix non-profit says she believes people will begin applying for benefits again after it becomes clear how the new protocols will work. She says, in the meantime, she's referring people to places like food banks and church-run clinics.