According to a Los Angeles Daily News article, some local immigrants are avoiding food assistance programs for which they are eligible out of fear that it will adversely affect their ability to become a permanent U.S. citizen or even that they will end up facing deportation. CalFresh, which helps low-income individuals buy fresh food with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at stores, farmer’s markets, and restaurants, is administered by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services. A recent CalFresh awareness campaign, however, made it clear to county officials that some immigrants were not applying for assistance through CalFresh. Although about 1.1 million county residents are enrolled in CalFresh, there are an estimated 700,000 additional residents would qualify for assistance, even if some of their household members are non-U.S. citizens. The overarching concern of these immigrants is that applying or receiving any type of assistance would make them public charges within the meaning of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA). If an immigration judge finds that a non-U.S. resident is likely to become a public charge, or financially dependent on public assistance, then he or she may not be able to become a U.S. citizen and ultimately may be deported. As officials point out, though, there are a number of factors that contribute to a finding that an immigrant is a public charge, and reliance on a food assistance program is only one of the many factors that will impact this type of determination. An individual immigrant whom U.S. Citizenship and Nationality Services (USCIS) determines to be a public charge is more likely an individual who needs cash assistance on a consistent basis or who needs long-term care at government expense. When you or a loved one are detained and face deportation for any reason, Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. is here to help. We care about you, your family, and your ability to remain in the U.S. As a result, our California deportation defense lawyers stand ready to build the strongest possible deportation defense case on your behalf. Contact your Oakland immigration lawyer today and learn how we can advocate for you and your family in your deportation proceedings.