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Sessions Amendment to 2012 Farm Bill | Facts

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JUNE 2012  |  Download Adobe PDF icon


Sessions Amendment Would Deny Supplemental Nutrition Assistance to Millions of Citizen Children


Undocumented immigrants have long been ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

An amendment to the farm bill offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) would prevent millions of low-income U.S. citizen children from securing this critical nutrition assistance program. It would require that all members of the household provide proof of citizenship or immigration status, even if they are not seeking benefits for themselves. In families with different statuses, this would prevent even eligible individuals from applying for much-needed nutrition assistance. Currently, states may not deny SNAP to eligible individuals based on the status of other family members who are not seeking services.

Child hunger in America is widespread. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), in 2010 more than 16 million children lived in food-insecure households. The Sessions amendment would dramatically increase this number.

The Facts

  • 86 percent of the children with immigrant parents are U.S. citizens.
  • Children of immigrants comprise approximately one quarter of the nation’s child population. One in 4 of all children of immigrants live in poverty.
  • According to USDA, SNAP participation has been historically low among eligible noncitizen households. In 2008, only 55 percent of eligible citizen children living with noncitizen adults participated in the SNAP program.
  • Household members applying for SNAP for themselves are required to provide proof of eligible immigration status as a condition of eligibility. Household members applying only on behalf of children need provide information regarding only the children’s immigration status.
  • Although undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive SNAP benefits, they must still disclose their income, resources, and other information. The state agency uses this data to determine eligibility and benefit amounts for qualified household members, including citizen children.

Key Messages

  • Undocumented immigrants are ALREADY ineligible for SNAP.
  • The Sessions amendment would deny SNAP benefits to millions of eligible U.S. citizen children who live in mixed-immigration-status families.
  • The Sessions amendment would cause citizen children and other eligible individuals to go hungry.