The Trump Administration’s tough stance on immigration is impacting communities in many ways – from a rise in overall anxiety in immigrant communities, to a reluctance to contact the police if an immigrant is witness to a crime. But another impact is emerging – hunger. Many undocumented parents in the state are opting out of food assistance for their US born children who are citizens, because they fear they’ll be deported. Javier Roacho, the bilingual food navigator, Hunger Free Colorado says they have seen people dropping out of government assistance food programs due to these fears.
“What we’re hearing a lot is these parents want to drop out of these programs, they want to delete their names out of any kind of government data and they’re willing to give up Medicaid and they’re willing to give up food benefits for their children that are a big part and play a big part in keeping our kids fed, keeping them healthy, giving them that access to food whenever their tummy gets an ache or whenever they get hungry.”
Roacha says they have heard that people have even stopped visiting some food pantries due to fears of coming in contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.) “They’re more looking into seeking church organizations to avoid being a target to ICE, they see more of a sanctuary spot and have more trust in the churches than they do in any other organization.”
The Colorado Department of Health which administers the WIC (Women Infants Children) food assistance program in the state does not track or ask for immigration status, however Roacho says there is an anxiety that is spreading through immigrant communities. “We’re hearing a lot of word of mouth going around, just neighbors and friends speaking to each other, just saying that it’s going to make them more of a target for ICE and the immigration department to really shine a light on them.”
Hungerfreecolorado.org offers assistance to anyone in the state who is food insecure and helps them navigate the food assistance programs. They operate a toll-free, bilingual and confidential hotline, M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (855) 855-4626.
In Metro Denver you can also call (720) 382-2920.