Brief Three in 10 Adults in California Immigrant Families with Low Incomes Avoided Safety Net Programs in 2020
Building Trust and Improving Access to Safety Net Programs in the Pandemic Recovery
Hamutal Bernstein, Dulce Gonzalez, Sara McTarnaghan, Sonia Torres Rodríguez
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Many immigrant families have avoided safety net and pandemic relief programs in recent years over concerns that their participation would have adverse immigration consequences. These chilling effects on program participation occurred in the context of a restrictive immigration policy environment under the Trump administration, including the expansion of the “public charge” rule. Though the Biden administration has reverted to prior guidance on the public charge rule and reversed many other immigration policy changes, chilling effects may continue to deter adults in immigrant families from seeking safety net supports for which they or their children are eligible. This study draws on Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey data collected in December 2020 and interviews conducted with adults in immigrant families with low incomes and people who work at organizations that connect immigrant families to health, nutrition, and other support programs in California. We conducted the interviews between March and May 2021, in the early months of the Biden administration, offering unique insights as policy priorities were shifting. The findings of this study highlight the economic hardships experienced by California immigrant families with low incomes during the pandemic, the lifeline that safety net and community supports can offer, and the barriers such families face to greater access to these programs. It also highlights opportunities for building trust with and expanding access to safety net programs for families who have not received basic supports.

Executive Summary

Resumen Ejecutivo

Research Areas Health and health care Nonprofits and philanthropy Social safety net Immigration
Tags Poverty Welfare and safety net programs Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program  Hunger and food assistance Immigrant access to the safety net Immigrant children, families, and communities From Safety Net to Solid Ground Federal, state, and local immigration and integration policy
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center Health Policy Center